Beekeeping: Nurturing Nature’s Architects
Apiculture, commonly known as beekeeping, is the dedicated care of a colony of honey bees, typically housed in purpose-built hives. In our pursuit, we’ve chosen to revive a traditional wooden beehive known as a “Smålandskupa,” a cherished relic of beekeeping heritage in southern Sweden. Bees, kin to bumblebees, wasps, and ants, are uniquely adapted to thrive on nectar and pollen. They can exist solitarily or form intricate colonies, such as those of the honey bee.
A honey bee community comprises myriad individuals. Come mid-summer, the hive may buzz with up to 60,000 occupants. Predominantly, they are industrious worker bees, complemented by a few hundred drones, while a solitary queen reigns, exclusively endowed with the power to lay fertilized eggs. What sets bees apart in the insect realm is their own distinct language. Through a dance, they convey to their peers the distance to the hive, its orientation to the sun, and the allure of a newfound nectar or pollen source.
Our endeavor in beekeeping stems from several compelling motivations. First and foremost, bees play a pivotal role in pollination, facilitating the transfer of pollen and, consequently, enabling fertilization and seed production. With an assortment of fruit and vegetable crops gracing our garden, their assistance in pollination is invaluable. Secondly, our passion for nature fuels our desire to understand and safeguard these mesmerizing creatures. Finally, there’s an undeniable privilege in harvesting fresh honey and crafting candles and soap from the beeswax. These motivations can be related to permaculture principles 1, 3 & 8: Observe and Interact, Obtain a Yield and Integrate rather than Segregate.
As proud members of the Swedish Association of Beekeepers, we embarked on a beginners’ course through our local association. In tending to our hive, we abide by the association’s guidelines, all the while striving to uphold an animal-friendly and sustainable approach. For instance, we ensure the bees have ample honey to weather the winter, abstaining from excessive harvesting. Last summer, our harvest yielded approximately 15 kg of honey. As winter drew to a close, a touch of concern crept in, prompting us to supplement the hive’s provisions with sugar water. However, come April, our first hive inspection revealed a thriving, bustling colony, robust and healthy.
Our restored “Smålandskupa”