Five Reasons to Keep BeesPosted: April 3, 2012
Five Reasons for Keeping Bees
There are as many reasons to keep bees as there are beekeepers. While it really only takes one to get you on your journey, I wanted to share with you a few that got me interested.
1. They are the perfect pet.
Bees aren’t needy creatures. They don’t need to go on walks or be followed with a plastic bag. They don’t need a sitter when you go on vacation, they don’t require daily care. They have a few specific requirements like all of us. They need a proper shelter, water, and food. Bees are kept all over the world in cities, suburbs and in the country. They are excellent foragers and you don’t even need a yard or garden to keep them. There are many rooftop beekeepers in metropolitan Paris and New York City. Wherever you live, more than likely you can keep bees. Do check with your local laws to make sure it’s legal before you get started.
2. Impress your friends and make some new ones.
Beekeeping is a pretty obscure hobby. There are approximately 100,000 hobbyist beekeepers in the US, which is roughly half the number there was 40 years ago. There aren’t a lot of us, but out of the beekeepers I’ve met everyone has been kind, interesting and in general great people to get to know. Most of them have other hobbies that are equally interesting and as rare as keeping bees. I personally have always regarded beekeepers with some kind of wide eyed mysticism. I was sure they were magical and quite possibly a little ‘off’, which is more than likely one of the reasons I was drawn to it. People that know you will be in awe of your bravery, they will marvel at your willingness to reach your hand into a buzzing hive to pull out some honey comb. You will hear them say how amazing you are and how they could never do it. Just smile and nod and soak up the praise. You are after all, saving the world.
3. Honey is Awesome.
Besides tasting amazing and being one of the most natural sweeteners in the world, honey possesses a great many health benefits. Local (to you) raw honey is an excellent way to combat seasonal allergies when ingested regularly. Honey has been known to sooth a sore throat as well as an upset stomach. It helps with the healing of skin and is beneficial when applied to cuts. Some hospital burn units utilize honey topically for their patients. Not only is it a tasty treat to keep in the kitchen, honey is a valuable asset to the medicine chest as well.
4. Store bought honey, for the most part isn’t honey.
That’s right. It’s not honey. The FDA has determined that pollen is an essential ingredient in honey. It provides the bulk of honey’s nutrients and also is a GPS marker of sorts that tells where the honey was produced. In a recent test done by Texas A & M and Food Safety News, 76% of honey purchased in chain grocery stores contained no pollen. Worse, 100% of honey used for the test purchased at chain drug stores, and packs of honey that you get at the drive up window contained no pollen whatsoever.
The good news is that every honey sampled from farmer’s markets, Trader Joes, Co-ops and other ‘natural’ food stores all contained pollen. So if you want the real deal buy your honey from a trusted source…. Better yet, keep your own bees and know exactly where your honey comes from.
5. Save the Bees Save the World.
I’m sure you’ve heard that the bees are dying. It’s quite a frightening prospect if you consider that one-third of the food we consume is pollinated by honey bees and other pollinators. This mass disappearance of bees is known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and it has been attributed to pesticides, global warming, parasites and habitat loss. The human race has made it increasingly difficult for the honey bee to exist and in turn we are going to face some serious food shortages if things don’t change. One thing that you can do to help not only the bees, but also ourselves is to keep a hive of bees. In the film, ‘The Vanishing of the Bees’, Simon Buxton said “The future of beekeeping is not in one beekeeper with 60,000 hives, but rather 60,000 people with one hive.”
With one hive, you can become part of the solution and become your very own Environmental Superhero.