Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lesson 27: Help Save The Honey Bee

I am working on a lesson, probably the one after this one, where I will address varroa mites and some natural ways to keep mites under control. But prior to that lesson, I want to put out one more clarion cry for people to help save the bees!
The decline of the honey bee population is alarming. CCD hysteria aside, the decline of honey bees in the US is disturbing. Not only because of the recent concern of Colony Collapse Disorder, but because less and less people are keeping bees. Even before the concern of CCD I was already frightened at the reduction in bee colonies simply due to urbanization and the decline in beekeepers. An absence of honey bees has sent farmers running to the phones begging beekeepers to bring some honey bees to pollinate their crops. I received two such calls last week.
Without the honey bee we face a severe food crises. One third of every bite of food we enjoy is the result of a honey bee. You see, honey bees pollinate. And without adequate pollination, our food supply is in serious trouble unless you want to live on a diet of beans, corn and rice.
Without the honey bee America would have to pay 93 billion dollars A YEAR to do what the honey bee does, if that was even possible. And in reality, no efforts can replace the honey bee. We receive many calls from orchards and melon farmers begging us to bring bees to help them produce a crop. The need for honey bees is tremendous. At times, and in some places, the beekeeper can name any price to rent their hives and the grower will pay it. One grower in Maine pays over $900,000.00 for bees for his blueberries!
Bee Talk In my opinion, the only way we can protect the honey bee from becoming extinct or declining even further is to encourage more and more people to start keeping bees.
One October 28th, 2007, PBS aired a NATURE broadcast entitled, Silence Of The Bee. Several things are worth noting about that broadcast. May Berenbaum, PhD, Entomologist, Univ. of Illinois at U.C. said, "Estimates are that about 600,000 of America's 2.6 million honey bee colonies may have just disappeared". Another interesting observation was that during the broadcast a line came across the screen that encouraged people to go to the PBS website to find out what they could do to help save the honey bee. After the broadcast I followed that link and it basically said that to help save the honey bee more people should become beekeepers. We totally agree! This is our passion.
I am often asked exactly, "What is needed to start my first hive?" My wife might answer you differently than I would. I would encourage you to buy everything at once, all the things you'll need throughout the full year of beekeeping. My wife certainly agrees with me on this, but if she were starting out she would probably buy just enough to get started, and then add to it as the hobby expands. That's because my wife is very frugal with money, spending as little as necessary. I'm a guy. I like to buy big things and everything at once. Why not, I'm going to need it anyway!
To help more people keep bees, our family owned business has developed into 4 areas:
1) Manufacturing of the woodenware, the actual hives.
2) Educating the general public, FREE, on how to keep bees. Of course we educate by offering free mentoring to everyone who purchases a hive from us too.
3) Selling package bees, nucs and queens.
4) And selling honey and other products our hives produce.

People often call and ask what they need to get started. So, we have put together the perfect kit, containing just what you need to start your efforts in helping to save the honey bee.
This complete startup kit is on our website under startup kits, and it's called the "Starter Kit" and it costs $249 plus shipping. If you add in the cost of a 3 lb package of bees with an Italian queen which includes shipping of the bees, the price is $345 plus the cost of shipping the hives. Even this is still a small price to pay to start keeping a hive. Don't forget that I strongly suggest, however, that you start with two hives! This is very important, though not essential if finances are tight. For more information on why you should start with two hives, click on this link to lesson Eighteen, "How Many Hives Should I Start With"?

This will probably be my last opportunity to hit the subject of declining bees so hard within these bee lessons. From here on out, the beekeeping season jumps into full speed and gains speed all the way through November so the lessons will be more hands on, dealing with day to day beekeeping preparation and operations of your hives. So may I challenge you to consider beekeeping! And if you already are keeping bees, then please do your part to encourage others to get on board and start keeping more hives. Bees die, and when they do, don't despair. Replace your dieouts and keep going!

We are here to help you enjoy the wonderful honey bee and the natural products we gather from the hive.
Also, we'd like to post some of the positive comments that you might be willing to share about these beekeeping lessons. So, if you have a positive comment to share about how these lessons have helped you, please send them to: and we'll sprinkle them throughout our upcoming lessons. Please include your state and first name.
I can't wait to share my thoughts in our next lesson about varroa mites. I've got a few radical ideas to share, and I think after hearing some of my ideas, you'll agree!
We are still selling 3 lb packaged bees! And we sell at $96, for pick up at our facility only.

Remember, BEE-Have Yourself!

David & Sheri Burns