Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bee Keeping Part One

Apiculture the act of keeping bees for honey, wax, royal jelly, and pollen. Bees hives are called apiaries and those who harvest and maintain them are called apiarists. Beekeeping has been practiced for centuries. The Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and the Romans all participated in apiculture. Honey was once seen as a cure all by the Mesopotamians and an antibiotic by the Egyptians; of course these claims are debatable. Thankfully with modern inventions such as the smoker, it is easier to control the bees and keep them sedated when carrying out hive maintenance. Also, with removable frames we no longer need to 'crush' the entire hive in a 'press' as people did long ago, therefore, we can keep an entire colony alive and produce even more honey in an active season. Throughout the ages beekeeping has changed, however; one thing did not though, which is the bees themselves. They have managed their own lives longer than mankind has managed them. With that being said, it is imperative we keep that in mind.

When most people mention bees they immediately think of little stinging minions buzzing around awaiting their next victim, nothing could be further from the truth. Bees are actually docile and when handled
properly there is no need for a bee veil. They will sting to protect their home and queen, but they would rather keep their life and their schedules than bother with humankind. 

There are three main races of bees which are: the Italians, Carnolians and Caucasians. The Italian bees are known to be the most irritable of bees, they are less likely to swarm, and they are slow builders, which means less honey than other types of bees. Carnolians are gentlest of honey bees and are also quick builders. The only draw back is that they are prone to swarming. The Caucasians are slow builders, and do not do well in the heat, but they are very gentle and are one of the most productive as far as honey goes. As an aspiring apiarist do your research which bee variety best fits your climate, location and expectation of honey and wax harvests.

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