Saturday, March 5, 2016 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Bee Keeping--Getting Started

Bee keeping is worthwhile hobby

BRIAN JERVIS: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Q: I want to raise some bees. How do I get started? Sharon, Tulsa
A: It is an admirable and productive undertaking to raise bees; by some estimates, up to 80 percent of the world’s food depends directly or indirectly on bees and other pollinators.
Bees all over the world have been on the decline since 2006-07, experiencing a condition called “Colony Collapse Disorder.” This is a sudden loss of worker bees with eventual starvation of the queen and younger bees. The causes are controversial, but the consensus is that it is related to a combination of factors — parasites, viruses, insecticides and poor nutrition associated with a loss of forage. The good news is that the EPA reported recently that there was only half the amount of CCD in 2014-15 compared to 2006.
To get started as a beekeeper, or apiarist, you need to be informed. A number of books and journals are available, but a free source of basic information is a University of Missouri fact sheet — G7600, “Bee Keeping for Beginners.” This has recommendations for hives, how to acquire and where best to locate them. There is also information about sources of pollen and nectar needed for nutrition and the basics of management and harvesting of the honey.
One should also join the local and state beekeeper society for additional sources of information. They also may be a source for native bees.
To build a beehive yard, called an apiary, select an area that is close to a nectar and pollen source — either an agricultural source or abundant ornamentals. The area is best if shaded in the afternoon by deciduous trees, which cool the hives in summer and, after leaf fall, allow sun penetration in winter. It is desirable to have a nearby water source.
Hives may be built from scratch, but it is easier and not much more expensive to buy either the pre-milled parts to put together yourself or to purchase the completed hives.
It is recommended that the beginner start with two hives and expand from there as your experience and desire leads you. Bees may be purchased online or from local sources. There are several options as to the types of bees, with native bees and imported hybrids having advantages and disadvantages.
After a healthy colony in a hive has been established, the number of bees will be in the range of 75,000 with almost half of those bees being the foraging worker bees. These bees bring nectar and pollen back to the hive for honey production. A healthy hive in its second year may produce 50-100 pounds of surplus honey, leaving at least 60 pounds for the overwintering bees to feed on.
There is much more information about beekeeping than can be addressed here. Go to the above resources and get educated before starting a serious and beneficial hobby.

For more information or to ask a question about gardening, contact the Master Gardeners at 918-746-3701 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Garden tips
§  If you had previous damage to the tips of pine tree limbs, especially non-native pines, it may be diplodia tip blight (a fungus) or Nantucket pine tip moth damage. Both are controlled with pesticides starting this month. Call the Master Gardener office at 918-746-3701 for recommendations.
§  Pre-emergent herbicide to control crabgrass and other summer weeds should be applied by the middle of March.
§  The pink and purple weeds blooming in many yards now is a winter weed called henbit. It is poorly responsive to standard post-emergent herbicides now. These chemicals are most effective when the weed is growing taller and before blooming. The best approach now is to mow and bag the tops to reduce seed formation. A pre-emergent herbicide next fall helps prevent the henbit from becoming established. This weed will die when it warms up.


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