Bees are fascinating to care for and to watch. The process of acquiring the bees to adding supers to harvesting their honey is fun and intriguing.
I’ve separated this photographic journey into pages highlighting key beekeeping activities at Driftless Prairies.
We keep 1-2 hives on 60 acres. We enjoy the honeybees but do not want them to outcompete our native bees. We harvest before the goldenrod season, resulting in a light and sweet honey.
Honeybees are dying from Varroa mites, viruses, insecticides (Neonicotinoids), agrochemicals, and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Research continues to search for solutions to these problems. Where landowners have destroyed native bee habitats, the non-native honeybees provide valuable pollinator services for many commercial crops. We encourage restoring native habitiat because native bees are more effective pollinators than honeybees.
Over competition between honeybees and native bees create serious challenges that result in the lack of nutrition. Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields, pastures, and vacant fields are being converted to plant corn for ethanol plants and food for livestock. As corn prices rise, there are more acres planted to corn. Driftless Prairies provides an abundant supply of nectar and pollen from golden alexanders in the early spring to goldenrods and asters in the fall. In between, the bees have over 200 forb species blooming at varying times of the growing season. This diversity of native plants provides a healthy and plentiful supply of nectar and pollen for the honeybees and native pollinators. Bumblebees, butterflies, moths, beetles, ants, grasshoppers, and dragonflies are also thriving in our prairies.
No matter how much I’ve learned in the process, there’s at least that much more to learn!