Make way for the pollinators! As we seek to expand Silver Maple Farm it only seemed natural to add bees.
It’s a well-known fact that hosting bee hives on your farm will increase your harvest. Even when we lived on a postage-stamped sized lot in town we raised mason bees. While mason bees increase crop yields, they don’t provide honey. However, the presence of honey bees will provide more produce and glorious golden honey for both ourselves and our customers.
Since we’re newbies to beekeeping we decided to start small, with three hives. Our son Ben, who has raised honey bees for several years, has jumped in to help and advised us along the way as to what hives, bees, and equipment to order.
First, we ordered the boxes, which we painted the tops and front porch of each in a different color. Why a different color for each box? Did you know that bees have the ability to identify color much faster than humans, and see a range of colors from green to ultraviolet? According to scientists, the most popular colors to attract bees are purple, violet, and blue. Worker bees fly 15-20 miles per hour and having a different colored front porch from their neighbor helps them hone in on their specific hive while they come in for their landing.
The Bees- Oh, my goodness, there’s so much to learn about their care. A hive consists of three castes which include a queen, drones, and worker bees. Just like people, each member has an important role to play in building their community.
The queen spends her time laying 1,500 or more eggs per day, and may lay as many as half a million eggs in her lifespan. Drones are male and their role is to mate with the queen in order to grow the hive. Worker bees consist of immature females that do not reproduce. Each one plays a unique role in building and maintaining the wellbeing of their hive. Worker bees are responsible for housekeeping, and feeding the queen, drones, and young brood or larvae. They also guard the colony, build wax honeycomb, and gather pollen and nectar, packing it into the honeycomb cells. There’s lots of great online sites to learn more about our pollinator friends, here’s a couple I found helpful: Beeculture.com and Beekeepingfornewbies.com.
Loren and our kids and grandkids worked through the cold wet spring to build our honey shed. We wanted a clean space to extract and jar our honey. Loren installed a stainless-steel counter and sink with an on-demand hot water tank, and a honey spinner for harvesting the honey from the frames.
While our farm is certainly certified organic through Oregon Tilth, our honey will not carry the certified organic label. Why you might ask? The answer is simple when you understand the nature of bees. Since bees travel up to five miles away from their hive to gather pollen, one can’t guarantee the bees collect from exclusively organic plants. Thus, certified organic honey is really a misnomer, unless of course you own at least five-square miles of certified organic property.
Raw Honey – A healthy choice! According to an article in Medical News Today raw honey has healing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, among other health benefits.
And, remember, when working with bees:
For goodness sakes ~ Bee Careful!
Watch our website and Facebook page for updates on the Bee’s progress and when their honey will be available in our farm store.
See you at The Farm!
~ Loren & Kathy