Bees are necessary for about 80% of all crops that are used directly for food worldwide. But the last decade has been hard on them, reducing their numbers year after year.
I’m often asked “How can we help save the bees?” Here are five things you can do to help save the bees:
1. Plant Bee-Friendly Flowers and Herbs In Your Garden
Planting flowers in your garden, yard, or in a planter will help provide bees with forage. Avoid chemically treating your flowers as chemicals can leach into pollen and negatively affect the bees systems. Plant plenty of the same type of bloom together, bees like volume of forage (a sq. yard is a good estimate).
Good Plant Varieties:
- Spring – lilacs, penstemon, lavender, sage, verbena, and wisteria
- Summer – Mint, cosmos, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers, oregano, rosemary, poppies, black-eyed Susan, passion flower vine, honeysuckle
- Fall – Fuschia, mint, bush sunflower, sage, verbena, toadflas
2. Weeds Are Good
A lawn full of clover and dandelions is not just a good thing—it’s a great thing! A haven for honeybees (and other native pollinators too). Don’t be so nervous about letting your lawn live a little. Wildflowers, many of which we might classify as weeds, are some of the most important food sources for native North American bees.
3. Buy Local, Raw Honey
Buy local, raw honey that is from hives that are not treated by chemicals. It can be hard to find out what is truly “local” and truly “raw”–and even harder yet to find out what is untreated. Bee Well Honey exclusively sells local, raw honey.
4. Bees are Thirsty Little Creatures. Leave a Small Basin of Fresh Water Outside Your Home
They will appreciate it!
5. Learn How to be a Beekeeper
Find a local honey bee association that offers classes. Click here to visit the South Carolina State Beekeepers resource page to find an association near you.
I can relate to this question because – before I became interested in honeybees I had no idea how to buy them. My first hive was a gift from a friend. Funny thing was, he actually brought it to me in the backseat of a Camry with the seat belts around it to secure it. The two kids in the backseat were terrified! Probably the quietest trip that family ever made.
After I became obsessed with honeybees, I had to get more. Problem was I just wasn’t sure exactly how to do that.
Luckily for me I did reach out to the old time beekeepers in my region. I met a beekeeper named Mr. Gentry, and he invited me travel with him to buy bees in Vernon, Georgia from John Hardeman at Hardeman Apiaries. I gladly jumped at the chance to go, bu he made me drive. In fact he made me do all the grunt work but I loved the experience, especially since I had none.
When we arrived it was astonishing to me. Bees were everywhere – and I mean everywhere!
There were hundreds of little screened boxes – better known as packages. Each Honeybee Package contained 3 lbs of bees and a queen in a little wooden box. It was amazing! At this point I was searching for answers about the bee business and John Hardeman invited us into his house for lunch.
John’s wife met us at the door and gave me a good looking-over. I started politely asking questions, and of course, enjoying the food!
These were great people. I asked John, ” If you had to start over would you have still do honeybees?” He smiled and patted his wife on the shoulder and replied, “yes, but I would have started a lot sooner”. That’s all I needed. That was the day I started my bee business.
I bought fifty 3 lb packages of honeybees, and Mr. Gentry bought fifty. That was almost 20 years ago and now Bee Well Honey is the largest honeybee and beekeeping supply company in South Carolina.
We are serious about educating new beekeepers and carefully explain to them what a honeybee package is. We also make sure they understand how to care for them. We would never consider just pitching a package of bees in a car without making sure the customer knows how to care for them. Thus the reason for this blog.
Beekeepers who wish to sell honeybee packages are a unique group of individuals. The great ones know how to rely on other beekeepers and relationships to share methods, ideas, equipment, employees, queens, queen cells and the list goes on and on. But, the most important thing we share is failure.
Bee farmers continuously share things that they try, but did not work. Therefore they learn how to try it again, but in a different way. They never give up. They just keep trying until they get it right. Being a honeybee package bee provider is not easy and I have the greatest respect for all of them.
What Is A Honey Bee Package?
A package of honeybees contains approximately 3 lbs of honeybees, nurse bees, forage bees, guard bees, drone bees – which is a supreme mix of bees of all ages. This is critical for the longevity of the colony while waiting for the bees to establish themselves in a hive and for the queen to start laying eggs.
It will be 21 days before new bees start hatching after the comb is drawn out far enough for the queen to start laying eggs.
There is a freshly mated queen trapped inside a small wooden cage with sugar candy filling a hole in one end. The honeybees begin eating the candy and eventually the queen is released. This gives the colony time to get used to the smell of the new queen. Everyday some bees die until the new bees begin to hatch and then the colony explodes with honeycomb bees and honey.
It truly is one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen. Guess that’s why I am in the business. Bee Well and Good Luck!
If you are going to make a split in the spring then MAKE A GOOD ONE! It kills me when I hear beekeepers that want to make their splits before the weather is appropriate. If you make a tiny split it will struggle terribly to survive the cold temps and you risk killing them completely. Furthermore I really get steamed up when I hear about a person wanting to sell nucs too early just to try to get the jump on the “competition”. I wish they could just realize the importance of helping new beekeepers get started off successfully is the longevity of the business.
The nuc business is riddled with beekeepers trying to sell 2 or 3 frame nucs… REALLY? I have made 2 or 3 frame splits before in the summer, but I have never tried to sell such a small wad of bees to a customer in the spring.
A 4 or 5 frame nuc full of all age bees and brood has the proper ingredients and has a much better chance of survival in early spring than a 2 or 3 frame. As the season warms up and spring arrives these small splits can be made without trouble but it is very important to sell those to experienced beekeepers who know how to handle them.
A 5 frame nuc is a much better option for a beekeeper of any degree. Think about it! A Five frame nuc has everything it needs to survive if the beekeeper selling them cares anything at all about customer service and return business.
Don’t get me started on those guys that don’t stand behind their product!
Bee Well Honey Farm in Pickens South Carolina stands behind their bees and makes sure to give the customer what they are paying for.
A Five frame nuc is an established colony operating as it should with at least 3 frames of brood and 2 frames of pollen and honey.
If you don’t have all the ingredients you have not made a healthy split. Make sure your split contains 3 frames of brood and enough bees to keep that brood covered during the cold nights and days that still come in early spring then surround that brood with honey and pollen by placing full frames on each side of the brood then shake in 2 or 3 more frames of bees to make sure. This recipe will give you a healthy split queen or no queen. Good Luck!
Mead Making Class
Learn how to make the world’s oldest fermented beverage in our Mead Making Class. We will demonstrate how to make a simple mead. When done correctly, home brewed mead will be the best you’ve ever tasted.
Join us and see how simple it is.
- Date: December 2, 2017
- Time: 10:00 a – 12:00 p
- Cost: $20.00
- Mead Making Demonstration
- The History of Mead
- Special Mead Fermentation Techniques
- Mead & Honey Tasting
- Discussion of Different Mead Styles
These crisp mornings means we’re just beginning to enjoy all that fall has to offer. Beekeepers know that the cold weather means even less bee activity will send the honey bees back into cluster.
As fall swings into full force here are some tips to help you and your bees make it safely through the upcoming winter.
- Attend Bee Meetings.
- Make sure equipment is stored properly to stop wax moth damage.
- You can feed syrup when the temperature allows (45-50 degrees).
The weather is getting cooler and tress are just beginning to change to their brilliant fall colors.
While you’re beginning to enjoy the fall season, it’s a great time for beekeepers to continue managing your hives to ensure they survive the upcoming winter.
Continue to combine weaker colonies and make “double sure” all queens are accepted and present. Queenless colonies should be combined with queen-right colonies.
This is the time of year to feed as much syrup as you can get them to take so they can insulate the brood nest with honey.
Replace broken equipment and make sure they have good tight hives to survive the cold winter months. Not much bee activity.
- Combine the weak
- Equalize bees
- Repair or replace bad equipment
- Attend Bee Meetings
- Review “Bloom Calendar” for next season.
Our 3 lb Honey Package Bees are now on sale for the 2018 season. Our Italian Hygienic Bees with young Mated Queen are available for pickup only.
Package Bees Available Pick Up Dates
- March 31, 2018 – On Sale Now
- April 7, 2018 – On Sale Now
- April 14, 2018 – On Sale Soon
- April 21, 2018 – On Sale Soon
5 Frame Nucs
Our 5 Frame Honeybee Nuc Bees Colony is packaged in a Jester Box (Plastic) and is now on sale for the 2018 season. Only available pickup.
We raise these nucs ourselves. Local bees from the upstate! And, our nucs are raised without chemicals and fungicides.
We are accepting orders fro spring 2018, however no pick up date has yet been schecduled. We will commuicate this date soon.
Common Sense Beekeeping Class
This beekeeping class is an in-depth discussion on the fundamental practices of beekeeping, the natural behavioral habits of honeybees, and the methods needed from a beekeeper to help the honeybees and the beekeeper become a successful partnership.
- Date: September 30, 2017
- Time: 10:00 a – 12:00 p
- Cost: $20.00
- Basic Equipment
- Locating Bee Yards
- Calendar Year Description of Maintenance and Responsibilities
- This class includes a guided tour with Kerry Owen of South Carolina’s largest beekeeping agritourism business.
Kerry Owen recently appeared on Scene on 7 to talk about Bee Well Honey. Click Here to Watch.