Creating a Honey Bee Habitat – a complete “what you need to know” guide
The bee hive is a bee’s home and as a wonderful beekeeper your aim is to provide the ideal environment for your bee mates i.e. a honey bee habitat that exceeds the needs that bees seek out in nature. The basic housing needs for keeping happy, healthy and productive bees need to be considered when creating a honey bee habitat.
Your bees need shelter and to feel safe. Honey bees like to make their hives above ground somewhere that keeps the colony dry, has enough room and good ventilation. Commercial beehives and the building plans you might find to build your own hive are all designed to mimic these preferred bee habitat conditions in the wild. Man-made bee habitats often even improve on the space bees seek and of course are designed to allow you to easily inspect and encourage colonies to produce large quantities of honey.
Honey bees need a habitat that affords them the ability to expand. The larger the colony of bees in the bee habitat, the greater chance of survival as they can collect and store more food and it will mean more warmth during the colder months.
Keeping bees for pollination and honey production means you will want to encourage growth of your hive. You want to provide a bee habitat designed to allow for expansion in the beehive as the colony grows, such as the Langstroth Flow Hive and the Hoover Hives 10 Frame Bee Hive, which allow for easy extraction without harming your bees.
Honey bees need a habitat that affords them the abiity to expand!
Bee friendly plants
In order to truly create the ultimate honey bee habitat, it is essential to consider the availability of bee friendly plants. Bees and plants have a sophisticated symbiotic relationship. Bees will fly up to 30 miles in order to collect pollen and nectar from suitable bee friendly plants. Make sure you are planting the right flowering plants to keep these keep pollinators busy nearby and allow them to produce as much food and honey as possible.
Firstly, where is the best location for a bee friendly plant garden? Think about using some of your current lawn to help reduce your yard’s water consumption. Once you have a site, the fun of selecting bee friendly plants begins! Make sure you choose flowers with single blooms as they provide more nectar. Herbs also have benefits for bees…and for your kitchen!
You want flowers throughout the seasons of spring, summer and fall so look for a variety of seasonal flowers like pansies and snowdrops for early spring and peony, lavender and marigold for spring– summer. During late summer into fall, herbs are the stars of the show especially mint, sage, thyme and oregano. Look for non-hybridized flowers that have not been treated with neonicotinoids as these can be harmful to your bee population.
If you are on a budget, you don’t have to source all of your plants from the local nursery, ask family and friends for cuttings of their bee friendly plants.
There are some amazing printed beekeeping books available to the keen beekeeper wanting to create a bee habitat such as Planting for Honey bees, offering practical advice on which bee friendly plants to grow, when and where to plant them to help these pollinators flourish by creating a honey bee habitat. Check out these two great information guides:
Seed Grow Kits
If you’re budget conscious or time poor and you don’t want to spend hours collecting plants, why not invest in a flower seed grow kit, like these two from Backyard Safari and The Jonsteen Company to create your own bee habitat of wildflowers in your garden.
Bees Need Water – So have a source close by
A key component of creating a honey bee habitat is the availability of a quality water source. Bees gather more than just pollen and nectar. Honey bees collect a lot of water too. This water nearby is used to dilute honey that might be too thick and also to ensure the hive stays cool during hot weather. Water is collected from the honey bee habitat and deposited in cells back in the hive, while other worker bees fan their wings to evaporate the excess water and help regulate the hive’s temperature. Bees will look for a source of water nearby as they are practical creatures.
If you have a natural source of water nearby such as a stream or pond, great! If not, you need to provide a water source to ensure your bees do not need to travel long distance to fetch it. That bee energy would be much better used for collecting nectar and pollen to produce more honey. A bee bath such as this would be a great source of water nearby your hives.
I hope you enjoyed this article “Creating a Honey Bee Habitat – a complete ‘what you need to know’ guide”. Now you know what you need to do, you will be able to create your own honey bee habitat and keep your bees very happy and provide you with honey!