On a lovely spring day, thousands of honey bees are lightened in and out of Mike Rekart's hives. The Denton County Beekeepers Association member sits about 6 feet away with a beer, watching the ladies – all working beers are female – returning from their travels. The "pollen curves" on their hind legs are filled with yellow dust from the 50 to 100 flowers each visited.
A stable buzzing radiates from the wooden box. It sounds distinctive to bees like honey itself, coming from the insect's wings, which strikes up to 200 times a second. It doesn't scare Mike, who is relaxing in his Denton garden without any special gear.
"One of the great things that the beekeepers in this area are after is gentle bees," he says. "I can get close to mine. They don't stick my dog. The load I have is not aggressive. We are able to live in harmony with them very easily."
Mike sees his hive not just for his own enjoyment, but to see if he notices something that is unclear or unusual. Getting a problem early and responding to it is crucial to successful beekeeping ̵
"I didn't do that well," he says. "I did it through the summer and then it all died. I tried to do some things myself and I just failed. Bees are very forgiving if you get on something that happens to them quickly, but I wasn't educated about the characters on things that happened. I needed guidance. "
Fortunately, this guide is available through the Denton County Apiculture Society for any Denton County resident considering the rewarding hobby of beekeeping.
"I joined the club and man, that was the bomb," says Mike, who now has a "giant" hive in his backyard, eight more on shared land, more honey than he can eat, and a garden of well-pollinated lemons and avocados. "I want to have 30 years of knowledge now, not three, because the club is really more than the sum of its parts. There are a lot of people you can go to for information that helps you, and beekeepers are very happy to exchange knowledge and give advice freely. "
The growing club of about 120 members is just over 3 years old. DCBA President Candi Pardue says the goal is to support beekeepers in Denton County while educating residents of our county's pollinators.
Awareness is important because pollinators such as honey bees are responsible for one in three bites of food eaten by humans, according to Bee City USA, who designated Denton as the second Bee City US state (after Beeville, of course) in 2016. The certificate states Denton's commitment to helping these important pollinators survive.
One way to help is to consider becoming an urban (or suburban) beekeeper yourself. Start by checking your local ordinances, which vary from city to city. For example, Denton says you can have up to four hives on a hectare of land, while Flower Mound says you can't have more than three in less than one hectare. If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner association, you should also check there and of course take into account neighbors. Bees sting like a last resort (each bee can only sting once, because the action that sticks out kills them), but a neighbor with a life-threatening allergy to the bee care doesn't care much about the fun fact.
You do not have a lavish garden or orchard. Your bees will feed within a 2 to 3-mile radius of their hive and can zip around at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. "They can go up to 5 miles," Candi says. "I'm trying to tell people they don't have tunnel vision."
Take an introduction to the beekeeping workshop hosted by DCBA, join a club to network with other beekeepers and consider private lessons. "Many people prefer to take lessons," says Candi, who has been teaching beginner beekeeping for five years. "It's not a requirement, but I tell people it's always wise to invest in your education first because you don't want to spend money and time and then fail."
So how much money and time will you be investing in your new endeavor? Candi says the financial component may vary widely depending on your choices. Bees cost between $ 175 and $ 300, but if you wait too late in the year, you can pay as much as $ 500.
"Most are waiting until May," Candi says. "The sun shines, we have beautiful weather and the flowers bloom, then they will become a beekeeper. At that time it is almost too late. The earlier this year you can start planning, the better."
You also need protection equipment . For that you can spend as little as $ 30 for a simple hat, veil and gloves or get a top-of-the-line suit for $ 300. The same flexibility applies to your wood vortices.
"Do you want to go on the cheap? Or is there something to sit right near your home that you want to look really nice?" Candi asks. "You could spend $ 350 or you could cut some corners and probably get it down to about $ 200."
As for the investment in time, "I tell my first-year students to come in bikini two or three times a week [from May to August or September]," says Candi. "There are beekeepers who have more of a hands-free approach. They think you just let bees bee and maybe check them once a month. The first year is a good idea to be very practical. learning, your education The more you learn, and the better you can predict what your bees need, the less time it takes. do and what they need from you. "
God saves the queen (and her girls)
When you inspect your by-products, Candi says you want to make sure the queen is healthy and puts enough eggs ( as many as 2,500 a day during certain times of the year); that the bees have enough, but not too much space; and that they bring in enough pollen and nectar.
"We have seasons in North Texas where there is a shortage," she says. "That means there is no food available for your hive. During that time, we can supplement food with sugar, syrup, pollen substitute, etc. You just want to make sure they are fed. Honey bees are the only livestock , you really want to be fat because a fat bee is a happy bee and we want happy bees. "
These are some things you want to check after inspections, but you will probably get into a lot of other fascinating behaviors too. . Let's start by meeting the three types of bees you find in your hive: the queen bee, worker bees and drones.
There is only queen, and she is the key to the colony's success. They quickly know if she's gone. An experienced eye can find her; She is longer and slimmer than the other bees and has a more acute abdomen. She takes a mating flight when she is young, mates in midair with up to 15 males, so in many cases never leaves the hive again. She can live up to five years, but can later be replaced by her colony if she is ineffective in laying eggs.
Drones (drengebier) are created when the queen chooses to lay an infertile egg. They make up a very small percentage of the colony because their entire job is hanging out in the sky in drone congregation areas – the bee equivalent of a single bar – waiting to feed. Because they do not contribute to the hive (they cannot even ward off invaders because they lack a stinger), they are usually kicked out as winter accesses and food becomes scarce.
The vast majority of a colony is made up of working beers – queens of the queen – who have more jobs during their short lives. They are caretakers (cleaning of cells for eggs), nurses (feeding of baby beers), construction workers (building of gingerbread cells from the wax and repair of damaged cells) and guards (keeping the chain safe). They can also regulate the temperature of the hive, bring in water, pack the pollen, close the finished honey, remove the dead or even care for the queen. Busy bees actually!
Of course, the last phase of their lives is foraging. These girls need to collect nectar from about 2 million flowers and fly about 90,000 miles to make a single pound of honey, so there is no time for spilled flights. Therefore, they have an ingenious way of communicating when they have found a sweet stash of flowers. It's called waggle dance. (Yes, really.) When a forager finds something exciting, she returns with the news and a try. She shimmies in an eight and then performs an elaborate dance to communicate where the others can find the treasure.
"Beekeeping is the most fascinating thing," Candi says. "And you will never taste honey as good as your first honey harvest in your life. A real local honey is great and hands-down, 100% better than what you want to buy in a store."
Out about the exciting behavior of these social little creatures and pounds of golden honey "I want to share with friends, there may be another reason to become a backyard suit:" It would not be beyond the ability of our bees to be actually saved by our beekeepers because the commercial guys lose it many, "says Candi." It's not a mistake of theirs. I love and respect them. They have a really hard work and do the best they can, but we need the older agricultural style. "
The often spoken colony collapse disorder is, Candi says, not a single condition, but rather the result of a number of factors in our farming system. Large commercial pollinators truck hundreds or even thousands of hives around the country to study almonds, berries , rapeseed and other crops. These bees eat only one thing and are stressed by travel.
"It would be like you and I working 80 hours a week and eating only cheeseburgers," she says. We are unhealthy and it is a bit of what these bees face. Bees are not meant to be put on an 18-wheel and locked in for three days while traveling across the country. "
In addition to stress and poor nutrition, EPA notes that other risk factors for honey bees include the invasive varroa mite, new and new diseases, pesticide poisoning and habitat changes.
We can help many of these factors as beekeepers in the community "Our hives do not move around. They have a very varied diet with trees and wildflowers. We can supplement and feed them when we need to. They have a bit of a cushy job. "And creating more healthy bees with cushy jobs is never a bad thing.
Whether you are interested in beekeeping or just wanting to keep these important pollinators safe, planting may help friendly plants, support legislation that helps bees and use caution when using chemicals in your yard. "" Bees are amazing and they are fun, "says Candi." The more beekeepers and non-beekeepers in the county can work together and benefit each other when it comes to herbicide and pesticide use and hive management, the better. We are stewards of this little bee, so let's put our best foot forward and do the best we can for everyone so everyone is happy and bees are never a bother in Denton County. "