Beekeeping/Why Keep Bees
When people think of hobbies, certain things come to mind, like stamp collecting, painting, or knitting. Few people, however, think of beekeeping. After all, who wants to be responsible for literally thousand of creepy, crawly, flying insects that are known to have the ability to sting? Well if you are reading this Wiki book, chances are you do.
Keeping bees, when properly done, can be a unique and highly rewarding pastime. Not only can beekeeping be entertaining and educational, when done on the correct scale it is also often a profitable hobby. Not only will your bees create honey and other products for you to harvest, but if you garden your fruit and vegetable harvest will also flourish.
Beekeeping, despite the many misconceptions, is a safe and easy hobby to start. It is a good hobby to start with family or friends.
Benefits of Beekeeping
Man has been motivated to keep bees because of the reward of honey. Honey was the primary sweetener before store bought sugar was available to the masses, and honey is likely the main draw for many beekeepers. Large quantities of honey is produced by certain types of bees, called the honey bees; certain other types of bees such as the stingless bees (i.e. Melipona beecheii) produce moderate amounts of honey. Other types of bees such as bumblebees, and solitary bees do not produce honey.
As any beekeeper that has had at least one good harvest can tell you, there is no other honey that can even compare with that which comes from your own hive. Also, depending on the plants that are used by the bees, the honey you make can have its own distinct flavour. Since you are able to grow your own plants in the vicinity, or even move the hive to another location that has other plants, you can produce honey with different types of flavour.
Depending on location, weather and the experience of the individual beekeeper, it is not unheard of to harvest an excess of 100 pounds of pure honey. This means, for the more entrepreneurial-minded beekeeper, that there would be plenty of honey to sell. Depending on the market available per region this could mean a great deal of profit. In example, in the Midwestern United States honey sells for approximately four dollars a pound in bulk; this could mean as much as $400 gross revenue from a single healthy hive.
Any gardener worth their weight in top soil knows the benefits of pollinating insects; having a large number in a central location is just that much more beneficial. A majority of plant survival is dependent on pollination, and bees do nearly eighty percent of all pollination, of which most of this occurs by solitary bees (not honey bees). Both honey bees and solitary bees can be kept by beekeepers, although most still focus primarily on keeping honey bees. However, even in the event that honey bees are used, pollination is still aided and any increased pollination means larger harvests, and larger harvestable fruits and vegetables. By simply having bees one can expect their well-maintained garden to produce leaps and bounds over what it did before with poor or even barely adequate pollination.
Although no specific studies can be cited, many beekeepers claim that tending to their bees relieves stress. Some beekeepers even take a few afternoons during a good season to simply sit and watch the actions of their hives. Watching bees coming and going, with all their hustle and bustle, is quite the relaxing experience.