Monday, May 29, 2017

Finding Beekeeping Supplies Indiana Way

By Larry Hamilton

Looking for a hobby, a way to make a difference, a way to save the planet, a way to supplement your income? Creating and caring for a beehive is a way to do all of this at once. Bees are jewels in nature's cap and vital to its balance. Buying American-made beekeeping supplies Indiana way helps the economy, too.

Look online for suppliers of everything you'll need if you want to have an apiary - a collection of hives where honeybees live and create the many valuable bee products that people have used for centuries. Honey, beeswax, propolis, and royal jelly are familiar to all who value natural foods, chemical-free beauty aids, and natural remedies.

Help is as close as your local extension office. State universities reach out to communities through these offices, and volunteers sign up to help people get started in various agricultural fields. Lots of people want to help others keep bees.

Some of the things you'll need to have a home apiary include the hive (outer box) that shelters the colony, the frames that you stack on top of each other, and the feeders that provide extra nutrition during hot, dry spells or the colder months. There are various sizes of frames, from deep ones for the 'brood' (eggs and larvae) to shallow ones that hold the honeycomb. Beginner's kits are available to make getting started easier.

In addition to honeybee hives, frames, and 'supers' (frames where the bees can store extra honey - which you can harvest!), you can buy special tools. You'll need to open and inspect the hives. There are brushes to move the bees gently, gently out of the way when you need to work around them. You'll need to protect the hive from parasites that threaten the colony, and feed the bees during the winter or during hot, dry spells.

Protective clothing is important, since honeybee stings are painful and can be dangerous to people who are allergic to their venom. Even the most docile bees will get upset when their hive is disturbed. Full-body suits, hats and veils to cover the head completely, and gloves come in different sizes for adults and children.

All species of bees are pollinators, but not all give honey. There is a tiny native American insect called the Mason bee. You have probably noticed them hovering around your lavender and mint plants. They almost never sting and they are so small that a sting is insignificant. All Mason bees need is a sheltered nesting hole in a sunny location and a yard full of feeder plants rich in nectar. They are not as well known as the honeybee but are even more prolific pollinators.

All of us with gardens or orchards - in fact, all of us who eat - owe a debt of gratitude to the pollinators that play a part in plant development. Whether we live on the East Coast, in the middle of the country around Indiana, or near the Pacific, we can help bees survive and flourish.

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