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Become a Beekeeper & Save Our Ecosystem!

By Katie Townsend, On-Farm Program Director

Our Bee Friends are declining and need some champions. Honey bees are challenged like never before with a multitude of stressors including poor nutrition due to loss of wildflowers & favored plant species, climate change, infestations of parasites, and pesticide poisoning. Did you know dandelions are actually the first source of food for bees in the spring and it’s important to let them grow? Did you know that it’s important to refrain from pesticide use because bees search for food within a five mile radius of their homesDid you know bees are responsible for pollinating approximately ⅓ of our nation's crops? The U.S. lost 45% of our bee colonies from 2015-2016 and Illinois lost 62% of colonies from 2014-2015. So what do we do about it?

We need to support the honey bee and other wild bee populations with a more hospitable habitat - and more beekeepers! If you have a little space in your yard, adding a beehive helps your garden prosper while adding beauty. Angelic Organics Learning Center offers Introduction to Beekeeping (January 28th) each winter as a means of preparing new beekeepers for spring. Don’t think you have what it takes to keep a beehive? It might be more simple than you think.

Bees are some of the most hands-off livestock you could ask for. They take up very little space and can be checked on as little as once every two months. Bees are also some of the most interesting creatures to study and watch. We often find that campers and students visiting Angelic Organics farm have a lot of interest in our hives, and even those who are nervous at first, quickly warm up to them. And there’s plenty of beekeeping gear that keeps you safe from stings, but bees are so preceptive, that with a calm persona - you likely won’t even need it!  You can also invest in a hive that allows you to monitor your bees and collect honey without disturbing them.

Bees also get a bad reputation due to lookalike wasps or specific species like African bees which most people don’t use (and most places don’t sell). And while honey bees provide the wonderful health benefits of rich golden honey for you and your family, there are other types of bees, such as mason bees, who don't make honey and also don't have stingers. Incidentally, hives for mason bees are very easy to make yourself and a quick search on Pinterest will give you loads of ideas! 

Not every city or town will allow you to keep bees. Be sure to check your local laws before starting a colony. But even if you do not live in a city which allows beekeeping, you can always find ways to apply new knowledge. Taking a class is a great start to see where you can fit into the scheme of things. Check out our next session of Introduction to Beekeeping on January 28th from 1-4 p.m held at Angelic Organics Learning Center in Caledonia, Illinois.