Keeping Bees in the Backyard
Homesteaders, Preppers, Survivalists & even regular homeowners, like me and you, can benefit from beekeeping. Keeping bees in a backyard hive can provide pollination, honey, beeswax and more!
In a world that seems crazy in some respects, people are interested in finding ways to become more self-sufficient. Perhaps you have a small backyard homestead?
Homesteading as a means of enjoyment and sustainability grows more popular each year. Whether you are a full out prepper with a bunker in the back yard or someone searching to reconnect with nature, beekeeping can be a great addition to your home skill set.
More than Honey for Beekeepers
Let’s investigate some of the reasons that you should consider adding bees to your homestead or backyard.
What Keeping Bees Can Do For You
- produce your own honey
- produce beeswax for projects
- increase pollination of crops
- raising bees to sell for extra income
Produce Honey for the Homestead
Depending on your location, you may not harvest honey from a beehive during the first season. It takes a honey bee colony time to get established and prepare for Winter.
Well established colonies (over 1 year old) should produce surplus honey. In my area, new colonies rarely produced enough honey for themselves and me too. But the second year should be one of production.
How much honey you can produce will depend on your location and climate. But 2 colonies will usually provide enough honey for family consumption.
Honey is a wonderful addition to the food supply. The long shelf life of honey makes it one of the best foods for preppers or those interested in food storage. Learn how to store honey and it will never spoil.
Explorers have found honey 2,000 years old that was still edible. (That’s a pretty good shelf life folks.)
Other than nutrition purposes, honey has many other uses. Raw honey soothes coughs and colds. It combats infection and promotes healing of wounds and burns.
A product used as food and medicine is a good one to have around. And if you produce more honey that you need – sell the excess.
Bees Produce Beeswax
After the honey harvest, a beekeeper has excess beeswax. Honeybees produce beeswax from wax glands on their abdomens. It is used to cap cells of honey. During honey extraction the wax caps are removed.
Honey gets all the attention but beeswax has value also. At one time, beeswax was accepted as a form of payment for taxes in the state of Tennessee. Early settlers understood the value of this unique product.
They burn brighter, longer and cleaner than other fuel types. You can make your own beeswax candles or sell wax to others for their crafting.
If you don’t have time to make your own beeswax candles, check out my Etsy Store. Beeswax candles make great gifts too!
Beeswax Used for Other Projects
There are so many uses for beeswax. It has value – more so even than honey.
Beeswax is used to produce an effective waterproofing agent. It has been used in canning, sewing, carpentry, furniture building, and archery.
Again the ability to not only use – but sell or trade beeswax is another reason to consider keeping bees.
Pollination by Honey Bees
Honey bees will pollinate vegetable gardens and orchards. Good pollination by honey bees greatly increases crop yields. Crops not needed can be sold or traded.
And nearby neighbors may rent a couple of hives for the summer season to pollinate their vegetable garden.
Keeping Bees for Extra Income
Some beekeepers are able to produce income from their beekeeping activities. This is not easy money because hard work is involved – but for some it is a labor of love.
Beekeeping startup equipment is costly. Thankfully most of the equipment will last for year.
Often an older experienced beekeeper will trade a starter colony of bees in exchange for a few hours of labor in the bee yard. Honey bee swarms can also be captured and placed in home hives.
The actual bee colonies themselves may provide a source of income or barter. Healthy hives that grow and multiply can be sold or traded for needed goods.
Beekeeping for Greater Self-Sufficiency
So many of us are seeking a life of greater independence and sustainability. The value of honey bees and bee colonies makes them an asset to any homestead.
In a time of crisis, gardening for becomes more than a hobby. It is life-sustaining.
Keeping bees can provide a valuable source of income for preppers, homesteaders and almost everyone. Beehives can even be kept near chickens . They can share a large area and the hens may aid in keeping some insect pests from the hives.
Getting Started Keeping Bees
Beekeeping is popular now. This means there is a lot of information out there to help you get started. Before rushing out to buy bees, you have some work to do.
Beekeeping today is very different than bee management in Grandpa’s day. Learn basic beekeeping techniques and prepare well before you get bees.
Strive to avoid simple beekeeping mistakes. You will make mistakes we all do ! “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
Managing honey bees on the homestead for productive yield will require a little start up money and some hard work. It is not easy but the rewards are great.
Beekeeping Equipment – What You Need
Getting started in beekeeping requires the purchase of some equipment. You can make your own boxes if you wish but unless you have access to scrap wood it is less expensive to purchase wood components ready to assemble.
Beekeeping equipment is available from many sources. Online sellers such as Amazon offer a good selection of beekeeping products. Shop around and compare prices and quality.
If you are lucky enough to have a local bee supply, this is a great opportunity to help the local economy.
Beekeepers no longer interested in the hobby often sell used equipment. This might be a good deal in respect to hats, veils, smokers and other tools.
But, be careful when purchasing used equipment. Equipment that has contained bees may harbor pests and diseases. The honeycomb provides the greatest danger of contamination.
Enjoy – Beekeeper Charlotte