This is the first article in our selection about basic skills that were once common but are now overlooked. For our first skill, we are going to learn how to start bee keeping. This is a great way to produce something that you can use and trade while helping pollinate your own garden.
Since World War II beekeeping has been a skill that most have forgotten exists; one that most people don’t believe is important or are afraid of because they were stung as a child.
Agricultural specialists estimate that bees are directly or indirectly responsible for one out of every three mouthfuls of food. They are used to pollinate numerous specialty items such as nuts, fruits, berries, and vegetables. Most of the foods that add flavor and diversity to our diet are pollinated by bees, making bee keeping important in the modern world.
In fact, the bee farming community has been trying to teach people how to start bee keeping recently because they are getting devastated by colony collapse disorder. This phenomenon is a direct result of increased pesticide use and a change in how we use the land on earth. A few bees getting covered in pesticide can return to a hive and cause enough trouble that the hive collapses very quickly. Colony Collapse disorder has been on the raise for years and is not improving.
A few years into the apocalypse, colony collapse disorder will no longer be of great concern. The bees will be making a comeback and it will be very easy to harness that power and use it yourself. If you learn how to start bee keeping now, this could be a great skill to give you an advantage in an apocalyptic society.
As long as you order the bee keeping supplies that you will need now, you will be golden when the time comes. You could also have a head start if you a have a self-sufficient hive that is already there to produce when you need it. It will be much harder to start your own hive when you cannot order the starter bees on the internet and have them in your mailbox two days later!
Why You Should Learn How To Start Bee Keeping
Beekeeping is a great skill both now and during the apocalypse. It’s a great way to earn a little extra cash now for more preparation materials while you learn a good skill to take with you.
Learning how to start bee keeping is great for 3 primary reasons. The first reason is because they produce honey. Honey is a great thing to have because it will be much harder to come across spices during the apocalypse. You will be very glad you spent the time now when you are enjoying a nice meal with some sweet honey.
Anything that you can produce that other survivors may desire will also give you a huge advantage. Skills are going to be much more valuable than they are now because they will be hard to come by. Your knowledge of how to start bee keeping can improve your quality of life and be traded to others for something they create with their skill set.
The second reason that you should start learning how to start bee keeping is because bees pollinate plants for a living. It is very simple to harness bees and use them for what they are meant to do.
If you are growing your own crops, having your own bee’s can give you a huge advantage. They will pollinate all of your crops faster, improve the quality of your crops, and increase the production rate of your crops. This is especially true if you are using crops that flower and attract bees in the first place.
The third, and last, reason that you should start is because it will be very easy. Once you get your hive started, you just have to sit back and look for anything to go wrong. You should not have to step in unless the hive is at risk of being destroyed. Starting the hive is the hard part; the rest will be smooth sailing.
The Bee Keeping Basics
Bee Keeping is a pretty fundamental process that is easy to understand. You are looking to take a swarm of bees and harvest what they produce, natural honey, for profit. Once you master the art of how to start bee keeping, the rest is letting the bees do the work!
Bees are little workers that fly around from one flower to another collecting pollen. This process also pollinates the plants they are harvesting from the contact of going plant to plant. Once their stomach is full of nectar, they bring their harvest back to the hive to store it.
The name of the game is to store as much honey as they can to hold them over through the winter. You will be harvesting the honey they are storing but it is important that you leave enough for them to survive. A new colony might also need some extra honey the first year in order to survive that vital first winter.
The nectar that is brought back to the hive is turned into honey by removing any water content. This new substance is very high in sugar and prevents bacteria from growing while in storage. This high level of sugar is what keep the bee’s wings moving so fast.
The bees also build honeycomb cells to help support the hive and store the goods. This is what they use to store the honey and help separate their larvae as well. When removed, this can be turned into what is commonly referred to as “beeswax” for added value.
Once the temperatures drop below 40 degrees, the bees will retreat to their hive for the winter. Contrary to popular belief, bees do not hibernate for the winter like some insects. They actually hover in place within the hive while eating the stored honey. The combination of friction and body heat created from the flying is enough to keep them warm enough to survive.
Your typical bee has a lifespan of only about a month if it is living in the spring, summer or fall. If, however, they are born during the winter, they can survive the entire winter and then about a month into the spring. These winter survivors will last just long enough to get the spring hive up and running after the winter break.
How To Get Your Bees
After you have done all of your research on how to start bee keeping, it will be time to acquire some bees. You would be surprised at how easy it is to purchase a large number of bees. You can easily hop on Craigslist or a local bee forum and obtain enough bees to get your started within a few days. Once you have mastered the skill, you will be inundated with bees that you are always looking to unload.
You can easily buy your first bee colony online for a very fair price. The most common package contains 3lbs. of bees, or a queen and about 100 other bees that are ready to go. We highly suggest that you purchase the upgrade to have your queen bee marked for a few extra dollars. Those dollars won’t be worth anything when the time comes anyway!
Spring is the best time of the year to get your beehive started. It is warm and this is when your bees are looking to start breeding. The earlier you start in the spring, after the last frost of course, the more bees you will have to survive the winter with.
Each bee in the hive has a very specific role in making the hive prosper. Below is a quick overview of each of those roles.
Queen Bees - The queen bee has the single most important role of the hive. Her one and only purpose is to lay eggs that will produce more bees. During the peak of laying season, she can produce over 1000 eggs a day in a well-established hive. While she is laying eggs, she does not even feed herself. That is what the worker bees are for!
Worker Bees - The worker bees do exactly what the name implies. Their sole purpose in life is to do any work that the hive requires of them. They are sterile females that live their life in service to their queen.
Drone Bees - Drone Bees are the males of the hive. They are there for reproduction and that’s it. If they are lucky enough to mate with the queen, she will rip their sexual organs out and store them for later use. After this process, he will fall to the ground and die a happy death. Drones that fail to breed with the queen will be forced out of the hive by the worker bees in the winter when they are no longer useful.
You Will Need A Bee Keeping Suit
A bee keeping suit and veil is a must have for any bee keepers. This is the protective equipment that will keep you safe from being stung when conducting hive maintenance. Without these, you will have to do everything without protection and risk getting stung if you upset the bees.
Bees will sting when they feel like their hive is being threatened. These stings are very painful because they inject you with a venom or toxin. Some people are highly allergic to that venom and a sting during the apocalypse could mean a very painful death.
The Other Bee Keeping Equipment You Will Need
Other than a bee keeping suit, there are a few other tools that you will wish you started with. If you don’t have these, your life will be much more difficult.
Smoker – A smoker is what beekeepers use to smoke the bees while you do hive maintenance. Smoke will calm the bees so that you can do what you need without getting attacked. The science is that the smoke triggers a response in bee’s to eat as much as they can in preparation for abandoning the hive. Once bee’s eat, their abdomen distends and it is harder for them to sting.
Bee Brush – This is what you use to slowly remove bees off of a surface. It is the gentle and harmless way to remove the bees a few at a time. If you find yourself without one, you can use a feather to do the same thing.
Hive Tool – A hive tool is one of those tools that you don't want to have to live without. It is used for a variety of different beekeeping task to include removing the hive boxes. If you do not have one, you can get by with a large flat head screwdriver.
Queen Catcher – A queen catcher is a piece of bee keeping equipment you will need to keep things easy. The most important piece of beekeeping is to keep the queen happy, wouldn’t you know… This will help you remove the queen gently and keep them penned up while you do whatever you need to do.
Bee Hives – You are obviously going to need a few bee hives in order to make this work. You should start with the best quality you can afford because you will need to create your own replacement parts as they break. It is also best practice to keep a spare bee hive or two on hand. You never know when you will need one but you will be screwed when that time comes if you were not prepared.
While trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world we are all going to look for ways to improve our quality of life. The key will be to find the ways that are most efficient uses of our time. Learning how to start Bee keeping is an easy way of improving your food and producing something that you can trade for further improvements.
There are hundreds of thousands of available resources on beekeeping online. It is important that you learn everything you can while the internet is still online. It is important that we learn everything we can about these basic skills while we still have this awesome resource. Don’t be that girl/guy that has no real skills when the power goes out!