I like my coffee like I like my women…
COVERED IN BEEEEEES!
Yes. This is a special loose ends post about the keeping of BEES!
Todays blog title has been graciously ripped off from Eddie Izzard. If you haven’t seen his beekeeper bit – I command you to do so before you read on. (link)
Okay, glad we are all on the same (Bee Covered) Page now. Why would you want to keep bees?
– Bees aren’t having an easy time of it at the moment, though there are various suggestions as to why this is the case. Maybe your colony will help bolster the numbers. (link)
– Bees are excellent pollinators of course, so there are your own plants and no doubt many others. (Bee range is about 2 miles from the hive, some observed as far as 4 miles)
– Sweet sweet honey. Unless you become proficient at growing your own sugar beet or sugar cane and refining it (it’s bloody hard I gather) this might be the most realistic way of producing your own sugar-esque stuff. (potentially maple syrup or other types of sap)
– Also beeswax, which has it’s own set of uses: cream, polish, candles and even a type of glue.
– Mead (don’t forget to praise Odin)
Where to start?
The British Beekeepers Association (est. 1874) is a perfect first port of call and they can link you up with a local/regional network. There has been some recent controversy about BBKA accepting donations from chemicals company Bayer. I don’t really know enough to comment, but here is a thorough write up. Anyway, here’s a short video of their recent convention:
Backward Beekeepers have a good set of videos explaining the basics. Here’s my favourite on how to ‘catch’ a swarm. If you are looking for a new extreme sport perhaps give this a try.
Here is a well made and informative short video on the extraction of honey process. The same filmmaker has another one on keeping bees.
Finally I couldn’t find a video on this, but I know it’s often come up for discussion; is it ethical to keep bees? I try not to weigh in too much on personal choices such as vegetarianism and so on, but the keeping of bees in particular are a confused topic within this already fairly confusing area. This chap gives a decent account if you are interested: (link).
Hope that was interesting! In a broader sense, it’s interesting to consider the role of insects in all of this; we have a tendency to focus on stuff that works ‘for us’ at a human scale. Bees are certainly the most visibly ‘useful’ insect, but certainly not the only one. (I think a Loose Ends ‘Covered in Worms’ special might be next. Though the title might need some work)
And I managed to get through without making any crappy bee jokes. Now buzz off.