Have You Given Thought to Bees?

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

11.21beehiveI’ve been watching the last several years, as the prepping movement has been changing. Oh, there are still plenty of traditional preppers around, but I’ll have to say that the movement has grown in both breadth and depth. The breadth part is that more and more people are seeing a need to be prepared for oncoming disasters, even people you wouldn’t normally expect. But it’s the depth part that’s gotten interesting.

What I mean by depth is that many people, after prepping a while, gradually shift more towards homesteading, than just prepping. Some go so far as to selling their homes and moving out into the country, where they have room to do a proper homestead. But even with those who stay in town, there are more and more who are turning their homes in suburbia into small homesteads.

If you think about it, this is actually a natural progression along the road to self-sufficiency. Many of us talk about growing a vegetable garden, to supplement the food that we have stockpiled and as a step towards becoming self-sustaining, should a disaster outlast our food stocks. The next logical step, after a vegetable garden, is raising animals, giving ourselves a source of protein in our diets.

There’s something else that we can add to our efforts, which not only is a good source of food, in and of itself, but will also help our vegetable gardens. That’s to start raising bees.

There’s a very real threat in the nation today that the bee populations are dying out. According to the statistics that I’ve been reading, about one third of the overall bee population has died. In many cases, entire colonies have died out suddenly, blanketing the ground with bee bodies. Some areas have it even worse, with losses as high as 70% of the population.

The real risk here is that enough of the bee population might die out that there aren’t enough to pollinate our farmers’ crops. While bees aren’t the only pollinators around, they are the most common. Should the bee population die out, none of us will have enough to eat.

Apparently, what’s killing the bees are some of the chemicals used in conjunction with GMO foods. One of the biggest reasons for GMOs is to make plants which are hardy enough that stronger pesticides and herbicides can be used. Well, we’re seeing some unexpected consequences of those chemicals now, as the bees can’t handle them any better than the pests that the chemicals are supposed to kill.

The simple solution, at least for you and I, is to have our own bee colonies. Of course, if there are GMO crops being grown near where you live, the bees could still die; but that’s not an issue for most of us in suburbia. Your bees would feed off of your plants and those of your neighbors; helping those plants and producing honey while they are at it.

The typical bee colony produces much more honey than it needs, providing honey that we can harvest. When compared to sugar, our other main sweetener, honey is much more healthy, to the point that it even has some medicinal properties. It is one of the few foods which will store literally forever; so you end up with something very worthwhile to add to your food stockpile.

Keeping bees is actually very easy. I don’t have enough time to get into it here, but there’s a lot of information available for how to raise bees. More than anything, you need a hive for the colony to grow in, as well as to produce and store the honey that they make. Once you have that, you buy a colony of bees and release them into your hive. They pretty much do the rest.

Bees produce honey as a means of prepping. That’s their food stockpile to get through the winter. So, when you harvest it, you need to make sure that you leave enough honey in the hive for the bees to survive the winter. You can take more honey, if you give the bees sugar water to consume.

A proper hive consists of at least two parts. The lower part (hive body) is where the bees live and where the queen lays the eggs. The upper parts (supers) are where they store the honey. They can store it in the lower part as well, but that part is for the colony, not for harvesting. A divider between the two parts keeps the queen from laying any eggs in the upper part of the hive, so that all it will have in it is beeswax and honey.

There’s a new kind of bee hive that’s being made in Australia, called the “Flow Hive.” This unique hive allows you to harvest the honey, without destroying the comb. It does this by using a special plastic comb, which separates at the move of a lever. Once the honey is drained out, the comb can then be closed again and the bees will refill it.

This type of hive also increases the yield of honey from the colony, because the bees won’t have to use up honey to make beeswax. Of course, there’s a flip side to that coin, in that there won’t be any honeycomb for you to harvest.

So, if you’re already gardening, you might want to look at this as your next step. It will add to your family’s sustainability, while providing you with a sweet treat to enjoy.

Talk to you later. Until then, keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

PS: Here’s another slick little, and practically free, survival tool I use all the time.

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