|AJ and Jannett Cancella
|Beekeeping is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by
humans. A beekeeper keeps bees in order to collect honey and beeswax, for the
purpose of pollinating crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers. A
location where bees are kept is called an apiary.
Throughout the year, honey bees face many environmental hazards like heat waves,
freezing weather and flooding. Fortunately for bees, there are beekeepers who look
out for their best interests. They keep the hives protected from weather and make
sure there are always near plenty of flowers and water
Anyone who keeps bees is performing an important ecological services because
many plants are dependent on bees for pollination.
There are an estimated 139,600 to 212,00 beekeepers in the United States. The
vast majority of beekeepers are hobbyist beekeepers who manage less than 25 hives
About 4% are part-time beekeepers with 25 - 299 hives.
An estimated 1,600 beekeepers are commercial beekeepers who manage more than
300 colonies of bees each. About 1/2 of commercial beekeepers rent their bees to
farmers, following the pollination of the various crops.
|Robbing honey from wild bee colonies is one of the most ancient human activities and is still
practiced by aboriginal societies in parts of Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America.
Some of the earliest evidence of gathering honey from wild colonies is from rock painting, dating to
around 13,000 BC. At some point humans began to domesticate wild bees in artificial hives made
from hollow logs, wooden boxes, pottery vessels, and woven straw baskets or "skeps."
The domestication of bees was well developed in Egypt and sealed pots of honey were found in
the grave goods of Pharaohs such as Tutankhamun
|There are considerable regional variations in the type of hive in which bees are
kept. A modern beehive is a set of rectangular wooden boxes filled with movable
wood or plastic frames, each of which holds a sheet of wax or plastic foundation.
The bees build cells upon the sheets of foundation to create complete
honeycombs. Honey is stored in the combs in the upper parts of the hive.
|While knowledge of the bees is the first line of defense, most
beekeepers also wear some protective clothing. Novice beekeepers
usually wear gloves and a hooded suit or hat and veil.
Experienced beekeepers sometimes elect not to use gloves because
they inhibit delicate manipulations. The face and neck are the most
important areas to protect, so most beekeepers will at least wear a
The protective clothing is generally light coloured (but not colourful)
and of a smooth material. This provides the maximum differentiation
from the colony's natural predators (bears, skunks, etc.) which tend
to be dark-colored and furry.
|THREATS TO BEEKEEPING
The greatest threat to beekeeping are two varieties of mites (Varroa and Tracheal). And although these mites can be kept
under control by a persistent beekeeper, the negative effects on the honeybee population has been devastating. These
mites are greatly reducing the overall honeybee population in the USA. The mites are of no concern to humans, except for
the effect they can have on honey production.
Beekeepers are on the watch for various diseases unique to honeybees, and harmless to humans. "Foul Brood" and
"Nosema" are two such diseases. These problems can easily be addressed by good management and proper medication.
With more and more urban development and the growth of cities, there is less and less foraging available to bees.
However, areas like Fairfield County contain a rich assortment of nectar and pollen for honeybees, thanks to homeowners'
gardens and the lush, wooded countryside.
The arrival of so-called "killer bees" in a few southern states has received sensationalized treatment in the media. In some
areas of the country, this negative publicity has stimulated local restrictions and ordinances on the hobbyist beekeeper.