Beekeepers often get into bees by chance. What starts with one hive quickly grows to several. So, what keeps these keepers of bees interested in maintaining up to 80,000 stinging insects? For a guy like Matthew Teichman, our bee expert and longtime Coastal employee, it’s how he stays young. While everyone has their own motives, we’ve compiled four good reasons to keep bees, whether you live on a farm or a suburban neighborhood.
Time is On Your Side
The life of a dairy farmer starts really early and goes late. The life or a rancher starts early and goes even later. But for a beekeeper, life is pretty sweet – literally. According to Matthew, bees take care of themselves most of the time.
Proper maintenance includes supplemental feeding in the winter, removing honey, splitting hives to keep them from swarming, keeping pests out of the hives, and giving the bees plenty of work. Overall, it’s the ideal hobby or full-time job. How deep you get into beekeeping is totally up to you, the size of your property, city regulations, and your interests.
There’s Money (and Honey) to be Made
Sure, you can collect and sell honey. However, most beekeepers will tell you that honey is really just the beginning. Beyond the honey is the wax and propolis. Crafty artisans can turn those items into lip balm, candles, shampoo, salves, moisturizers, wood polish, and a lot more. Additionally, you can sell your bees to other beekeepers. Plus, farmers are more than willing to pay good money to beekeepers to help pollinate their crops.
Bees Make Beautiful Yards, Gardens, Fields, and Orchards
In short, bees are good for agriculture. In the process of making honey, bees also pollinate plants. They make it possible for us to grow nearly a third of the food we eat. To beekeepers like Matthew, that’s a big deal. The bees he raises help pollinate local crops, along with the bounty and beauty of his own yard and garden. By keeping bees, you’ll see an increase in pollination too.
Bees are Friendly
Whether you’re looking for something to do in retirement or need a second job, beekeeping is a great way to boost the number of bees in the Pacific Northwest. According to Matthew, the more beekeepers we have, the better.
Politics aside, bee experts are seeing an alarming decrease in bee populations around the world. This is often due to pests, diseases, and colony collapse. Here are a few things you can do to boost bee populations, even if you don’t maintain your own hive.
Add a bird bath or small pond to your yard. Be sure to fill part of it up with rocks (all the way to the surface). This will give bees a place to land and drink.
Plant herbs, perennials, and annuals. Bee favorites include lavender, sage, cilantro, fennel, buttercups, aster, geranium, calendula (marigold), sweep asylum, sunflowers, zinnia, and heliotrope.
Give wild bees a place to colonize. As long as the nest is away from your deck, house, and other structures, their presence will go mostly unnoticed.
Get Your Bee Gear at Coastal
Stop by your Northwest owned and operated Coastal for answers to your beekeeping questions. You’ll find all the gear to start and maintain your own hives. While you’re there, check out the lawn and garden department where you’ll find what you need to spruce up your property for the coming spring.
Bees are interesting creatures that have been part of human existence for a very long time.
- A colony of bees is called a superorganism, meaning it is a single organism made up of many smaller creatures.
- Honey doesn’t spoil like other foods.
- During the summer, a worker bee gathers enough nectar to produce 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey.
- The queen lays 2,000 eggs per day and lives up to five years.
- Upwards of 80,000 bees live in a single hive during the warm, summer months. That number wanes to just 30,000 in the winter.