Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ensuring Pollination for the Garden

One thing a lot of people don't realize is that you need to start planning in winter on how you are going to pollinate your summer crops so that they produce the produce. Some plants only require a summer breeze and a few similar plants nearby. For others, are there enough local pollinators, like bumble bees, wild or managed honey bees and even some species of fly to do the job thoroughly? After discussing with neighbors and talking with a lot of beekeepers in the area we have decided to try our hands at honey beekeeping.
From what we have been hearing, keeping bees is not too time consuming but also not perfectly simple. Here in the Northwest sometimes it might be too cold in the spring for the honey bees to go out and pollinate your garden when the first flowers bloom. For this reason, a few gardeners will try Mason Bees, larger solitary living bees who are able to withstand cooler initial temperatures. Unfortunately, these bees don't make honey which is what we are hoping will be able to offset some of the initial cost of setting up the hives.

If you want to get into beekeeping the first thing you want to do is talk to your significant other because unless you have lots of land she or he will be around them all the time. Second, do your research, including going to a beekeepers association meeting in your area. They will have local experience and since backyard hobbyists make up 3/4s of individuals in the profession – they love helping newcomers. We went to at least two different meetings and were able to get many of our questions answered by other beekeepers. You might be surprised to find out that there is a beekeeper next door. Some of the beekeepers we talked to live in the middle of Seattle in condos and apartments. Third, check the regulations in your area. In Washington, you need to register the number of hives you are going to have during the year including any hive splits you want to make. Fourth, find some beekeepers close to you (a bee buddy) to go to when you have questions. Finally go out and order you equipment and bees in January or early February as this is right before everyone does.

So this year, I hope to include weekly postings on the bees, so you will be able to see how they do.

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