Pages

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fall Bees

In the fall, the job of beekeeper is done. The faint yellowing of leaves was the first harbinger of fall, and now the blackening of basil and tomato leaves no longer allows our denial that another lush and bountiful summer is drawing to a close. We see the nectar hunting bees with less and less choice in their final search for winter stores.

But for those wanting to get into beekeeping, fall is the beginning of the cycle - time to get ready, design and figure out your future beeyard, perhaps even start planting pollination hedges or gardens to offer some easy snack for your furry tribe; get into the network of local beekeepers and line up your hive purchase. In our cold climate, the bees need to arrive around mid to late March, when the season begins with pollen harvest from elm, Russian Olive and Tamarisk.

I don't keep bees, although knowing how beneficial they are to ecosystems in general it’s difficult to imagine a permaculture food forest, backyard or homestead without them. But I am lucky, I have friends that keep bees on each side of our farm, and they trade honey with me for goat's milk and cheese. I like this trade agreement, and keep planting pollinators' hedges and gardens where "their" bees come to harvest nectar. I like the fact that my role is more focused on building an ecosystem for bees and other pollinators, rather then on keeping them. You can see some of my plant lists for bees and beneficial insects & pollinators here: http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/At-Home/.
I also organize beekeeping classes and workshops http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/Beekeeping/ which attract people nationwide, since our focus is on less known and more ecologically sound Topbar Beekeeping.

No matter where you are, beekeeping is a great way to get in touch with the spirit of place, akin to farming and vineyard keeping, but significantly less labor intensive.