Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Help the Honeybee!

OK, here’s something you probably didn’t know about me–I am a beekeeper.
Yup, there’s a hive in my backyard (a second one is coming this spring) and inside on a warm, summer day, you’ll find about 60,000 honeybees.


I can’t say. Not for sure. I can tell you that I’ve always been fascinated with bees and part of that might have come from reading Sherlock Holmes stories as a kid. You know, when he retired from the consulting detective business, he became a beekeeper. And though I have no memory of them actually doing it, I do have a vivid memory of an old home movie that shows my dad’s mother and father at their beehive. There was my grandfather (in Polish, we called him dziadza–pronounce that jaja) covered head to toe in bee gear. He had the jacket, the heavy canvas pants, the hat, the veil the gloves, the boots. He was a small man, he could barely trudge to the backyard beehive.

Along behind him came my busha . . . in her cotton housedress and apron. No veil, no gloves, sticking her nose and her hands in that hive like it was no big deal.

That picture has always stuck with me, and I think it’s part of what propelled me to get my first hive last year. Honey? Not yet, but then, last year was the worst year for US honey production on record. Hoping for a crop this year and when we get some and put it in bottles, we’re going to include a label that says "Busha’s Bees."

All that being said, did you know that honeybees are responsible for pollination of one-third of all the foods we eat? And that each year, there are fewer and fewer bees? Without honeybees, we’d be one, hungry planet.

Even if you don’t want 60,000 bees in your yard, you can help support the honeybee population. One way is to think of the honeybee as you’re planning your summer garden. If you do a little research for your area and climate, you can find plants (like beebalm) that attract bees. Bees also need water to process nectar into honey and to keep their hives cool. You can leave a shallow dish of water in your garden (shallow is the operative word, bees aren’t good swimmers!) or leave a hose on a very slow drip.

And don’t worry that you’re asking for trouble. Though they can be aggressive when they’re protecting their honey supplies, honeybees are, for the most part, gentle. Those bees that hang around picnics and get in your soda pop cans? Those are actually yellow jackets, a kind of hornet. Honeybees are usually too busy collecting nectar to worry about humans, and since the only things they eat are pollen, nectar and honey, they’ll never crash your party.

For more information on how you can help the honeybees, check out the Haagen-Dazs ice cream site ( You’ll be doing the bees–and the world–a favor.


Sharon said...

That is so cool. I live in NC and bees are a big thing here. I donate to the Honey Bee fund every year at our State Fair. The colony collapses are scary. Last I heard they think cell phone towers are contributing. Good luck with yours!

Casey said...

Hi Sharon!

Apparently, the cell phone connection has been disproved. Biggest culprit with colony collapse is probably insecticides. NC would have a great climate for bees. We were thrilled to go out the other day and see that ours had made it through another harsh winter.

Angie Fox said...

That is really neat. A friend of mine in grade school had bee hives in her backyard. Her parents would let us watch (from the house) when they went out to tend to the hives.

Sharon said...

Insecticides, makes more sense. You guys did have a bad winter. Glad to hear your little guys made it. And fingers crossed you get honey this year! And you'll be glad to know the large sugar ant colony somewhere under out new house made it through the winter too;) little buggers are driving me mad!

Casey said...

I'll take honeybees over ants any day!

Venus Vaughn said...

I've been fascinated by the honeybee situation for years. But not enough to have a colony myself--and I don't own property, so that's probably a good thing.

Good for you for doing your part. I'm pro-honeybee.

Casey said...

Yeah, Venus! And you know, "urban beekeeping" is huge right now. So you don't need property. Just a roof or a balcony. I know one woman who keeps bees on her front porch!