The West Kootenay Beekeepers
Our aim is to raise awareness of the honeybees, to help understand and learn more about bees, whether you are an existing beekeeper, thinking of becoming a beekeeper or just for your own personal interest.
The Honey Bee Crisis
The Honeybees are becoming more and more threatened these days from the uses of pesticides, pests and diseases and monoculture agriculture. The population of beekeepers worldwide is diminishing and the future is bleak for these little critters who do so much for mankind and the environment, from pollination to putting food on our tables. Just think, without the bees, there would be limited pollination which means limited food production.
There are many possible causes for the decline of the honey bees. We have all heard about CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) where the bees just leave the hive and never return. Many people believe that this is in some way connected with the use of pesticides.
Another possibility is the growing use of monoculture. It is believed that bees require a variety in their diet, just like us humans. To have trucks-loads of bees transported to almond orchards and canola farms etc. where they have only one source of pollen and nectar may be argued as another possible cause for their dwindling numbers.
A Brief History
No one is certain as to the exact date when beekeeping started, but honey collection was depicted on an 8000 year old cave painting near Valencia, Spain. Ancient Egyptians kept bees as shown in Egyptian art around 4,500 years ago. Simple hives and smoke were used and honey was stored in jars, some of which were found in the tombs of pharaohs such as Tutankhamun.
The Honey Bees (Apis Mellifera) is not endemic to the Americas. It is believed that the Spanish first introduced the Honey Bees to South America in the 1500s, and then later in the 1600s, they were brought in by the European colonists to North America.
Originally, bee colonies were kept in large pottery containers, straw skeps, wooden boxes and even old tree stumps thus making honey collection difficult and with great risk to the colony and collectors but in 1852, L.L. Langstroth (the father of modern beekeeping) developed and patented his hive with moveable frames for ease of manipulation and honey collection and thus the Langstroth Hive was born.
Why Keep Bees?
Apart from the very fact that the honey bees are facing a real threat these days, it is also important to realise that as pollinators, they play a major role in more than a third of our food production worldwide.
The joys and rewards that come with keeping bees is exceptional. Not only do we enjoy the fruits of their labour, ie. honey, wax, propolis, but the therapeutic effect that is associated with their maintenance and well-being.
But a word of warning "Beekeeping is highly addictive!"