Giovanna Trabasso / 07/16/2021
The Advantages of Beekeeping At Home
There are many ways you can make use of your extra outside space. Homesteaders and the off-grid community have been showing us that for years now. Everyone’s first response to sustainable projects at home is to try their hand at small-scale farming or gardening. Unfortunately, not all of us were gifted with a green thumb. After failed attempts at your quarantine garden renovation, herb farm, vegetable patch, it’s understandable to want to give up. But don’t! How about trying your hand at beekeeping?
Many of us grew up terrified of bees. Most’s first response is to run away as far as possible when seeing even just one bee. Why would you want to purposefully bring them to your home? The many advantages, of course. Beekeeping is a low-effort, high-reward hobby that can better your entire garden. After you’re all set up, the hive runs itself and there’s very little upkeep or costs to maintaining it. Beekeeping might sound daunting at first, but let’s walk through its advantages and where to start.
First and foremost, beekeeping is rewarding, interesting, and relatively economical, as bee-expert Hazel Thomas has described. The advantages to beekeeping as simple and can bring upon various new hobbies you didn’t expect. Of course, there are the obvious byproducts: honey and wax. No honey will ever taste as good as your own, backyard-grown honey. If honey is your favorite, go-to sweetener, why not have it in your own backyard at all times? Honey has an incredible shelflife and carries many nutrients and benefits. You can harvest your own source of calcium, iron, potassium, right in your backyard. Honey also helps relieve seasonal allergies!
Wax is another incredibly diverse byproduct of beekeeping. Did you know that you can make your own lipstick with beeswax? You can also make candles, crayons, body butter, furniture polish and lubricant, use to fit your everyday needs. These byproducts to beekeeping can also come as a new, extra income. Jarring and selling your honey even to just your neighbors and family can already help offset your starting costs. You can also sell beeswax on its own or all of the incredible products you can make with it.
Pollination is another fantastic addition to your garden that comes with beekeeping. Remember all those plants and vegetables you tried growing? Pollination can help with that! Having your own bees pollinate your garden can help you grow flowers, fruit trees. It can even help gardens and orchards that surround you. We have all heard it at least once, “protect the bees!” We all love honey, of course, but bees should be protected due to the incredible advantages of pollination. It’s a crucial part of nature and beekeeping can encourage it within your ecosystem.
While Thomas lists the many benefits of beekeeping, she also brings up some of the disadvantages that are just as important. Beekeeping is an inexpensive hobby in the long run, but there are starting costs. The basic pieces of equipment you will need to start include the hive itself, the bees, of course, protective clothing, a smoker, and other beekeeping-specific supplies. The honey and beeswax might have gotten you excited, but don’t expect to be harvesting much in your first year. Thomas explains that bees need to eat the honey they make in order “to set up house”. If you harvest all your honey upfront, you might lose your bees.
Beekeeping also takes some strength. There’s plenty of heavy lifting involved and you might need to talk the family into helping. Your super, the box housing the frames used for honey products, can weigh anywhere between 30 to 70 pounds. It’s also not as clean of a hobby as you might expect! In fact, bees can be quite messy. And of course, if you’re allergic to bees, this might not be the hobby for you. While protective clothes provide you with safety, you’ll always be at risk of a rogue sting.
But don’t be discouraged! Beekeeping, after your set-up is complete, only takes about 30 minutes of your time a week in upkeep. We have also saved the best advantage for last. How fun is it to tell others that you have bees of your own? Beekeeping will provide you with honey, beeswax, pollination, and a conversation starter!
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