Untamed and Free: Bees within your Back Garden


If you grow the best fruit, beans, almonds, coppiced hazel or willow, blooming crops of any kind, or simply have plenty of wild blossoms in your garden, you will currently have bees as visitors, therefore keeping a hive or maybe more of honeybees would seem just like a great idea. However, while my very own main interest is in honeybees, my first piece of advice in order to gardeners thinking of taking up beekeeping is first to spend some time dealing with the needs of other outrageous pollinators, especially bumblebees as well as solitary bees.

It may seem intimate to have thousands of honeybees humming around your flower beds, however, the reality is that they are not completely without problems. If your garden is usually small and urban, you may need to carefully think before placing a box involving fifty thousand insects pre-loaded with stings close to a neighbor’s territory. There may be pets, young children, and elderly people to consider. You really should think about how you use the place in your garden and how your own personal activities – such as sunbathing, eating al fresco or perhaps hanging out the washing rapid may interfere with their flight path, which at times may make Luton airport look like a quiet backwater.

My answer is these things not to put you off, but to encourage you to consider what your real reasons for wishing to ‘keep’ bees may be.

The likelihood is that flowering indoor plants you grow are already currently being pollinated quite effectively by simply wild bees and other pesky insects and unless you grow this sort of crops on a large scale, putting honeybees into the mix will have simply a marginal effect on yields. Conditions to this might include places where neighbors routinely spray using insecticides – with the end result that wild insect quantities have been drastically reduced rapidly or places where wild bee populations have suffered intended for other reasons, such as heavy carbon dioxide or habitat loss. However, in these cases, you are probably in an inappropriate place to keep honeybees.

In comparison with most livestock, honeybees want little attention, and so might be added to a garden, homestead, or smallholding without being nervous about creating a serious drain on your own time. However, as with any various other creature that comes into the care, someone must allow them to have the right kind of attention at the right times if only to make certain they are comfortable, replete using stores, and disease-free. Honeybees are – and will often remain – wild pests, unimpressed by our makes attempt to domesticate them, and so ‘keeping’ them is really a few providing suitable accommodation along with allowing them freedom for you to roam. Beyond that rapid especially if you have honey as the primary goal – you have to consider the level and style of ‘management’ you are going to endeavor to apply.

Addressing the requirements of other native bees first will help ensure that you usually do not cause an imbalance by flooding the area with honeybees while the local bumble populace is less than optimal. Exactly how this is often assessed is yet to become fully established, but if bumblebees are currently rare visitors to a garden, it may be too soon to add the beehive.

One of the most important factors is the availability of food throughout the entire bees’ flying season, which is where the gardener may apply their particular skills to making sure biodiversity and an appropriate number of species. There is considerable time conseillé in the flower varieties frequented by different types of pollinating pests and they each have particular choices. For example, comfrey, red clover, and foxglove tend to be favored by bumblebees, while honeybees are more likely to be found on heathers, white clover, and apple company blossoms. Of the ‘imported’ types, Buddleja is famously attracting butterflies, moths, and many bee species, and Himalayan balsam provides a welcome late-season improvement, especially to bees along with hoverflies.

Of course, many rapid if not most – putative beekeepers are tempted in that particular direction by the prospect of having their unique honey ‘on tap’. Baby yields are dependent on a few main factors: the number of families kept, the extent of the variety of available food, and rapidly more than anything – the next thunderstorm. Of these, only the first is entirely under your control, while bees may forage spanning a three-mile (5 km) radius from their hive. In the event that most of that territory is usually flower-rich meadows and hedgerows, organic farmland,

or verdant, uncultivated wild countryside, you may be well placed to keep at least as few as six hives if you so decide. Increasingly, beekeepers in villages and cities are finding their very own bees are healthier and even more productive than those kept next to arable farmland, and the reason for this seems increasingly obvious: our agricultural system is a tremendous consumer of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides, which are considered dangerous to pollinators. Very much attention has lately also been focused on the insidious detrimental power of systemic neonicotinoids, such as Imidacloprid, Clothianidin, and Thiamethoxam, which are known to be highly poisonous to bees in lab conditions, yet have been certified for use in the field. They may be typically applied as seed coatings, finding their method into the cellular structure of the plants as they grow as well as rendering the entire plant — from its roots in order to its pollen and Licor – toxic to something that comes too close. Concern offers widely been expressed about their potential for toxicity to people, too.

If you decide basically want to bring honeybees into your life, an early choice you have to make is actually between ‘conventional’ beekeeping, utilizing variations of the Langstroth-style frames-and-foundation hive, and so-called ‘natural’ beekeeping, which is mostly depending on variants of the top pub hive. The route you stick to will depend on your philosophy, your own priorities, and your pocket. The traditional approach requires a substantial preliminary investment in equipment, regular dependence on bought-in supplies, and also the possibility of higher honey production; while the natural path could be followed at a minimal charge, with generally lower and sustainable yields and a little carbon footprint. Before choosing together, you should first seek to have some direct, hands-on activities with live honeybees all over.

It should also be noted in not everyone is temperamentally suited to cooperating with bees, and it is as well tough this one way or the various other before you find yourself with hundreds of thousands of them in your backyard.

There are many things all gardeners are able to do to help all bees and also other pollinators, short of taking up beekeeping.

The most important thing anyone is able to do is to learn how to control insects using biological methods which in turn do not require the use of toxic compounds. Around 98% of all pesky insects are beneficial to us for some reason, but most insecticides do not discriminate between ‘friend’ and ‘foe’.

The next most important thing you can perform is to improve the habitat intended for bees by planting ancient, wildflowers – the sort that bees evolved using over one hundred million decades. There are lists of bee-friendly plants available online and there are a number of plant nurseries that concentrate on them.

If you have space in the garden, letting some of that go wild to create a safe home for bees and other pests is a great idea. Gardens that can be too tidy are not thus wildlife-friendly. Small piles of twigs and leaves and also heaps of rock are useful to numerous species.

Aside from the practical main reasons why you may be considering keeping honeybees, they are an engaging species where we have much to learn. Beekeeping is a fascinating and ingesting activity that has the potential to complement your relationship with the surroundings and its untamed inhabitants.

And merely having more bees of all sorts around can add greatly to your enjoyment of your garden.

Philip Chandler

Author of The Barefoot Beekeeper

Free DIY plans regarding building a top bar beehive are available from the author’s site where you will also discover a support and discussion community forum for natural beekeeping.

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