A Backyard Beekeeping Primer by Frank Mortimer

Backyard Beekeeping

Day after day over the spring and summer of 2020, we found ourselves tethered to our homes, which for most people, meant a lot of time being confined to their property. Whether because they are looking for an escape from a couch-bound existence, or just to feel more centered, people are spending more time outside in local parks or their own backyards. As a result, it has sparked an interest in finding new ways to connect with nature and help heal Mother Earth. Thankfully, there is one hobby that will get you outside, is a great way to give back to our planet, and where distancing oneself from others has always been the socially preferred practice: Beekeeping.

Beekeeping in residential backyards with Frank MortimerBackyard beekeeping has seen a huge resurgence as more people have become aware of the hardships facing our favorite honey-loving bug. What better way to adjust to social isolation than to care for the world’s most social insect? The great thing about keeping bees is that you can do it just about anywhere. There are beekeepers throughout New York City’s five boroughs and in Yerington, Nevada. Big or small, from North Dakota to Southern Florida, location is never a concern. A hive doesn’t take up much space, as it’s about the size of a filing cabinet and requires only a few feet in every direction for you to stand while opening it up to inspect the bees, or as beekeepers like to say, working the bees.

Beekeeping brings you face-to-face with a species that has been declared the most important on Earth. Honeybees are responsible for one in every three bites of the food we eat, pollinating $20 billion worth of crops in the United States. Everything from apples, oranges, and blueberries—to avocados, cucumbers, and pumpkins—to coffee and the cotton for our clothes—are all thanks to the honeybee. By becoming a beekeeper you’re helping ensure that there are plenty of bees to pollinate the plants where you live, and since bees fly three miles from their hives, each hive is covering a lot of ground!

Caring for bees is also quite peaceful, or as I like to say, Forced Zen, as the bees always keep you present and in the moment. Standing over an open hive will engage all your senses as you immerse yourself into their world, looking, listening, smelling, and feeling what the bees are doing. And if you’re lucky, you’ll even get the taste the pure, raw honey they’ve created from the nectar of all the flowers they’ve visited. You’ll be amazed to think that it takes twelve bees lifetime work to make one teaspoon of honey, and that each one pound of honey is the nectar from two million flowers, which required the bees to fly 56,000 collective flight miles or twice around the Earth to collect. It’s no wonder why humans have been keeping bees for thousands of years and why they’re one of the most studied creatures on the planet.

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Backyard Beekeeping