Sunday, February 6, 2011

A sweet deal: honey for land

The starter beehives. The smoker calms them down.
Last fall we talked to a beekeeper about installing a hive or two on our smallish suburban property. Steve, the beeman, surprised us by saying there was room for four, and he shocked us by saying that we should get about five gallons of honey a year in exchange for "renting" the land for his hives. I mean, we love honey, but five gallons seems an awful lot. But, of course, it does solve the Christmas present dilemma...

So, in December, Steve brought four "starter" hives and made sure that there was enough sugar water for the bees during cold weather. Now, we've moved on to the full sized hives, and he says the first "supers" will be going on soon.

Steve, the beekeeper, inspects a frame from a hive and ...
I asked him about the problem of Africanized queens, and he said that he changes out the queens once a year so it won't be a problem. And since I've been weeding close by, I've learned that bees really don't bother me if I don't bother them.


Steve has some 600 hives, mostly in agricultural areas, and they have to be moved to wherever the blossoms need pollinating, but he really likes urban/suburban hives because they don't need moving and because there's always plenty of stuff in bloom. He already had hives in a friend's large backyard, which is why I called him, but your local extension office probably has a list of licensed beekeepers. Or, if you're in Florida, check FloridaBeekeepers.org or the Dept. of Ag.'s website.

Hosting beehives  is such a friendly thing to do, and I would encourage you to investigate for yourselves.


... points out the queen. Click for a better view; she's immediately to right of the colon.















Sparky and Highway investigate.

Sparky discovers that bees are tasty, but there is a drawback... It took several stings before he got the message! Highway, the chow, lost interest after the first inspection, but I think his fur is too thick for a bee to sting him, anyway.


Finally, the full size hives arrive. From now on they will grow upwards as our busy bees make lots of honey. :-)

14 comments:

NanaK said...

What an interesting thing to do. I like the area around your hives. I also like the idea of having the bees around to pollinate your garden and getting plenty of honey without having to actually do the beekeeping work. If I didn't have young grandkids running around the garden I would look into this. Maybe when they are older.

Terra Mirabilis said...

Hi, Nana. I think I would not have them if I had very young children running around, but the hives do present a wonderful learning opportunity. Perhaps there's a corner of your garden that could be cordoned off?

Susan said...

Hey Penny...Your story is quite interesting. So, you're saying that this fellow...Steve is renting space in your garden for his beehives. Is that right? I've never heard of such a thing. Will he be leaving them there yearround? How large is your property? I would love to have some bees and fresh honey in my garden, however I'm with you...5 gallons would be waaayyyy to much for us. How neat!

Terra Mirabilis said...

Hey, Susan. Yep, that's it. My understanding is that it's quite a common arrangement. I have a typical builder's lot-size garden and I'm more urban than suburban. Miami-Dade County allows up to five hives per residential property, so there's no permitting issue. The hives will be here permanently.

Good luck on finding an obliging beekeeper and keep us posted!

James Missier said...

love the honey but not the bees. The moment I see one, my hair seemed to raise by itself, probably I got probia with them - as I had a nasty experience with a hornet.

Terra Mirabilis said...

Hi, James. What sort of honey bees are there in Malaysia? I don't think bee stings are as bad as hornet stings, and honey bees are generally pretty docile. Still, I'm hosting the hives so I can get free honey!

Meems said...

Penny,
Thank you for posting this. It is so interesting and an opportunity I didn't realize was available. From my understanding bees pretty much mind their own business as long as they are left to themselves. That's what I'm teaching my grandchildren.

I would SO love to have beehives. I'm going to check into it to see if it is feasible with children around.

Great Christmas/holiday gifts, too. It looks like yours are in a perfect location in your urban garden.
Meems

Terra Mirabilis said...

Hey, Meems. Yes, the bees are quite happy if they're left alone. I was weeding a little too close (about 2 feet away!) the other day, and one flew into my hair, but then flew out. I think they're a bit more bad tempered in cold weather, at least that's what Steve says and he wears a veil when it's cold/cooler. Do let us know if you get some hives. I'm sure you've got plenty of room, and you can always cordon them off .

PS I owe you a response!

MrBrownThumb said...

That's really cool. The poor puppy, I couldn't help it and laughed because I think we've all been in the same spot.

One day when I have enough space I'm going to keep honeybees, just for fun.

Terra Mirabilis said...

@MBT: "One day" never arrives. Go for it now!

Susan said...

I wonder what the rules are in Broward and if he comes this far north!

Terra Mirabilis said...

@Susan: Are you in Broward? I thought you were much farther north (Orlando way). I would think the rules are fairly uniform, but check the codes, likely to be found at municode.com.

He lives in Homestead, far south Dade, but he may come to Broward. His name is Steve Corniffe, 786-512-0444. However, you ought to check with the Broward extension service for a list of local beekeepers, first.

I do hope you're able to get some hives. Keep us all posted.

Susan said...

I think I'm a different Susan. :) That was my first post, and I am in Broward. I've started my backyard flower/vegetable takeover. Its a super long range project, but it would be sweet (heh) to have built in pollinators.

Terra Mirabilis said...

Ooops. Yes, you are a different Susan! Never mind, all are welcome here. Looking forward to hearing more about your veggie garden.