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The Sweet Side of Beekeeping

Now that we are all ‘resident experts’ with beekeeping, we sat down with Mark Manship to learn a little bit about the honey. Albeit, what most of would consider the best part of beekeeping!

But maybe you haven’t heard the buzz about our bees yet – check out this blog first to catch up.

Bees

How long does it take before a hive starts producing honey?

A hive starts to produce honey within a couple of weeks. But it is minimal storage, and they need some honey to feed on. Especially during the winter. It can be a full year before there is honey to harvest.

How much honey does a single hive produce?

Each bee only produces a 1/12th of a teaspoon in its lifetime and travels up to 3 miles to obtain the nectar and pollen it needs. But there are thousands of bees in a hive, and they reproduce quickly. Depending on the hive, you end up with 20 to 60 pounds of honey. Honey is sold by weight, not volume, because of water content.

What are the benefits of honey bee hives?

For the beekeeper, it’s the honey. For hobbyists, it’s not a profitable situation. You also have wax, which we provide to a friend who makes soap, lip balm, and other beauty products. You can also make candles and other wax products. The pollen can also be harvested to be used for boosting immune systems against allergies. Pollen, by weight, is a similar value to gold! With the honey that isn’t high enough quality to sell, we use it to make mead.

The pollination helps flowers, fruit trees, and many other plants reproduce. For commercial beekeeping, the pollination is required for successful agriculture. This is the biggest need since we are an agricultural dependent society. Mass farming production needs bee hives at fruit and vegetable farms for the pollination, or the fruit and vegetables won’t be successful. For example, almonds, oranges, pumpkins, tomatoes, apples, etc. This is 60-70% of the food we consume.

In this area, the only natural pollinators are carpenter and bumble bees. And a very limited variety of honey bees. All others were imported from Europe or East Asia.

Want to know more about our bees? Follow us on social to keep up with the hive!

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What’s that buzz? It’s Schmidt Associates’ New Bee Hive on our Green Roof!

In case you haven’t heard the buzz, Schmidt Associates is now an urban beekeeper with a honeybee hive on our roof.

Luckily, Mark Manship, one of our construction administrators, maintains two beehives at home and has become the keeper of our hives.  Since many of us are curious about what this means, we decided to sit down and ask him about being a beekeeper.  Check back for future blogs with more information and check out our social media sites. We’ll regularly have pictures posted with captions about the bees’ progress.


How did you get into this?
About five years ago my wife and I moved to a property with 3.5 acres of land. My wife wanted to get chickens, and I said “no” (I had them as a child and didn’t want them again.)  She mentioned bees, and I said sure. We got a nucleus hive (or nuke), a starter hive with 5 full frames of bees. Unfortunately, they didn’t last the winter, and we started over with a couple of new varieties of honey bees. We had some success, and they were thriving. Someone my wife knew wanted to retire and needed to find someone to take his bees. We reached out to some friends who were also interested in beekeeping, and together we purchased all his hives and equipment. After splitting this among our friends, we were at our peak capacity of 12 hives of various breeds of honeybees from all over the world on our property.

Though it began as my wife’s hobby, I helped a lot. With a background in carpentry, I made the hive stands and helped with transportation. Not long after we started, I had a swarm of honeybees land on a tree by my old office, and we wanted to capture the swarm to move them. We contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) about regulations to capture swarms. We were encouraged to contact a beekeeper or capture them ourselves. That’s when I got hooked. Saving the bees.

We are now listed on the IDNR swarm list for East Central Indiana. When someone finds a swarm of bees, they typically call pest control. Pest control refers them to the IDNR swarm list to have someone come catch them.

Mark Manship moving a bee swarm

I bought three new packages of bees this spring, one for our homestead, one for an offsite location, and one for the green roof at Schmidt Associates.

Schmidt Associates’ Green Roof with a New Bee Hive!What goes into maintaining a hive?
Once the hive is established, about once a week you open the hive to look for brood cells to make sure they are multiplying. You also look for honey stores and check the general health of the bees. You check for signs of pest intrusion and adjust accordingly. Another part is looking for additional queen cells, or an abundance of bees which may indicate they are ready to split or swarm and create another hive.

You need to make sure they are healthy, but if they get overly healthy, the hive needs expansion or needs to be split. I’m still learning and taking over the hive keeping at home. We’ve been doing this for about four years, but it was mainly my wife. Now the apprentice is the beekeeper. And I get to do it at the office too, which is great!

Check back in a few weeks for more information about honey production and the benefits of bees!