Oh, Beekeeping, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Well, if I counted all the benefits of beekeeping, then this article would rival the Lord of the Rings series.
Bees are a central part of our existence. There’s that famous quote that if bees go extinct, human beings won’t be far behind.
It’s attributed to Einstein, but that’s a debate for another day. What’s important is to appreciate that bees literally put food on our tables.
We owe our thanks not just to the honey bee, but lots of other bee species who go about their heroic existence almost unnoticed.
The beauty of beekeeping is it encourages us to provide a healthy environment for our honey bees, which also happens to be great for those other species, most of which are solitary.
So let’s go through some of the major benefits you can enjoy as a beekeeper.
Financial Benefits of Beekeeping
Before I appeal to your better nature, how about we look at what’s in it for you?
Bees have numerous products that are sellable. Honey, which the bees are most known for, is actually the cheapest product we enjoy from them.
You can sell wax, propolis, royal jelly like this, and even the bees themselves.
Though package bees are easier to ship across the country, nuclear hives which include brood, bees, and some honey actually give the colony a better chance at survival.
You could be a queen breeder and supply other beekeepers within your locale.
Bee venom is also another product that is growing in popularity. Bee venom is used medicinally so very soon there will be beekeepers that will specialize in venom production.
Beekeepers can also provide services. The state of California relies heavily on pollinator services. Almonds are 100% dependent on cross-pollination. Their pollen courier of choice? Bees.
As an experienced beekeeper, you can offer to train or advise others on all matters beekeeping.
Health Benefits of Beekeeping
There are lots of retired folks out there who have taken up beekeeping to get their blood pressure in check.
Beekeeping keeps you busy, engages the mind, and gets you outdoors.
Beekeepers who have been in the business for decades will regularly come across information that’s new to them.
They may also observe different behavior that leads them on a quest for information. Learning is how the brain stays young. It’s a great retirement plan, but those who start off early make it a lifelong partnership.
Raw Honey Health Benefits
How about all the raw honey you’ll have access to? If you decide to go into beekeeping as a hobby, you can decide to keep all the honey to yourself.
If you’ve been a loyal consumer of raw honey, you know how pricey it can be. Having your own supply would save you some change.
If you’re not familiar with this product, well you’re in for a treat.
Raw honey is full of enzymes that are lost when commercial honey is pasteurized to aid in packing. You won’t need to do that for honey from your own hives.
Honey, when harvested at the right time, is an antibiotic. The moisture level is so low, that you won’t need to worry about growing a bacterial culture in your honey jar.
Once you’ve had a taste of your own honey, store-bought will never taste the same.
Once you are a custodian of a colony, you will look at your yard through bee lenses. You’ll find yourself attempting to grow a few things that your bees can enjoy come spring.
Once you start with that, you’ll sneak in some vegetables and fruit for your organic pleasure.
As you know, the health benefits of organic produce can never be understated. So though this is an indirect benefit, it carries a lot of weight.
Environmental Benefits of Beekeeping
The honey bee is just one species of insect that we rely on to feed us. There are lots of unsung six-legged heroes out there who go about pollinating crops that honey bees may not be too interested in.
Apis mellifera, known to us as the European honey bee, prefers flowers whose nectar is rich in sugar.
Though plants that rely on cross-pollination have evolved to produce sweet water, all nectar is not equal. Some nectar is sweeter than others.
For those that are not sweet enough to attract the honey bee, the other species come into play.
By making the environment safe for the honey bee, we would have also provided a wonderful world for all the other species as well.
Many beekeepers allow their lawns to be invaded by weeds. Clover is one of the weeds that the bees are just crazy about, yet they have been eradicated by our committee regulations that require you to have a pristine picture-perfect lawn.
Beekeepers have a better understanding of the ecological effects of eradicating a species of either insect or plant. Even pests should be managed and not wiped out.
The reason we have super vectors such as varroa is that we initially aimed to annihilate varroa.
Inappropriate use of chemicals led to a resistant pest that is responsible for colony losses on a grand scale.
We have learned to take an integrated approach to manage pests, and this goes for farming as well.
As a result, we rely less on chemical warfare, and more on information and natural solutions which is a definite plus for the environment.
Tax Benefits of Beekeeping
As a beekeeper, you are eligible for agricultural tax benefits, as long as you have more than 50 hives.
That’s way more than the usual amount for the hobbyist but a good incentive for those who want to go into it commercially.
Currently, there is a project that seeks to have those who dedicate their land to bee pasture qualify for tax benefits as well.
There are some states that already recognize land use for bees as a qualification for some tax relief, and hopefully, the rest will follow suit soon. This is the American Bee Project.
Bees feed us, line our pockets, and set things up for the next generation so that they too can enjoy a safe environment.
All they ask of us is a safe working space, and we owe it, not just to them but to ourselves as well.
Take care of both your mind and your body with this activity. Even through tough times, you won’t regret it.