Honey is a simple preparedness option that I think people should consider. Honey, of course, is a natural sweetener. It may also have health benefits which would be helpful for preparedness, too. One of the best aspects of honey is that it lasts forever and doesn’t spoil. So when times get tough, I can save my honey for when I need to add calories to my diet. Or, if I have too much honey, I can barter or trade it for other things that I need.
You should get bees if you want to add honey to your prepping. You may also want to get bees for the beeswax, pollination, relaxation, learning about nature, and because they are easier to care for than livestock. On the other hand, you might not want to get bees if you live in an area where it is prohibited, if you are worried about stings, if you don’t have the time, space, or money to invest, or if you are concerned about harming the bees. There’s a lot you need to know before you can decide if you should get bees.
In this article, we’ll talk about if you should get bees. Then, we’ll look at the pros and cons of bee keeping to help you decide if you are ready to add bees to your emergency preps or homestead. But, first, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of beekeeping before we talk about the drawbacks.
Deciding If Should You Get Bees?
Pros to Beekeeping
1. Bees Make Honey
Of course, honey is the main reason for keeping bees. Honey is a delicious sweetener that lasts forever. You can use it in desserts, beverages, and meals. It may also have some health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, honey contains “a mix of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron, zinc, and antioxidants” It is also used as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial gel, and cough suppressant. However, it has 64 calories per tablespoon and 17 grams of carbohydrates, and 17 grams of sugar.
Honey certainly helps you get calories in a preparedness situation, but it also boosts morale and helps your meals taste better. You can also sell your extra honey to make money for your family and homestead or share it with friends.
2. Bees Make Beeswax
Another great reason to keep bees is for the beeswax. Beeswax can be used in cosmetics and personal care products. For example, you can use it to make lotion bars, lip balms, and other personal care items that might not be readily available in a disaster situation.
Beeswax can be made into candles, and it can be used to seal and preserve food items. Beeswax is also a great item to add to your preps and a wonderful reason to keep bees.
3. Bees Are Great for Pollination
If you have a garden, and in a preparedness situation, you probably will, why not have your own bees to pollinate it? Bees around the world are struggling for unknown reasons, but you can help by raising your own to pollinate your garden and your neighbors’ gardens, too.
The bees will be busy helping you care for your garden by pollinating your flowers and vegetables so you can have great-tasting fruit, vegetables, and seeds for the following year.
4. Bees Are Easy to Care For
Bee-keeping isn’t like taking care of livestock, which need to be fed and watered every day. Bees are pretty self-sufficient, and while you’ll need to do some periodic hive maintenance, they pretty much take care of themselves.
Bees can find their own food, which they store and turn into food for you! They don’t need to be locked up at night and let out in the morning. They also don’t typically need anything like veterinary care, vaccines, or other medical interventions.
5. Bees Can Help You Learn More About Nature
Bees will give you more insight into nature and help you spend more time observing how nature works. You’ll get to learn how bees work together and what kinds of jobs they do inside the hive. You can watch them interact with their surroundings, and since you’ll be spending more time outside, you’ll get to observe and learn about nature in general, as well as your bees and how they interact with the environment. We can learn a lot from keeping bees.
6. Beekeeping Can Be Relaxing
Beekeeping is a slow and methodical process. You need to move slowly and carefully, so you don’t get the bees upset. Some people find this to be a means of slowing down, listening to the buzzing of the hive, and relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. If you need a slower-paced hobby, beekeeping might just be for you.
Of course, these are all the positives about beekeeping. But unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks, too, and you need to take them into consideration before you run out and purchase your first hive.
Cons of Keeping Bees
1. Bee Stings.
Although many species of bees are not aggressive, stings can still happen. For many people, stings are a painful nuisance. However, some people are highly allergic to bee stings and can go into anaphylactic shock when stung. You may want to discuss this with your doctor because if you or someone near you are allergic to bee stings, beekeeping might not be the right thing for you.
2. Beekeeping Requires Timing.
Although beekeeping doesn’t require large amounts of time, it does require the right timing. Beekeeping tasks will need to be done at certain times of day and certain times of the year. Spring is the busiest season for bees and beekeepers, as you’ll be checking the hive (and the honey stores) often. In the summer, you’ll need to start prepping your hives for winter so that your bees can survive the cold. And, of course, you won’t need to do much more in the winter than check on your bees every couple of weeks.
You’ll need to plan your travel around when you need to be there to care for your hive.
3. Beekeeping Requires the Right Spacing
Before you get a beehive, you need to figure out where you’ll put it. This is really important because you don’t want your hive to be too close to your house or to your neighbor’s houses.
Even docile bees will defend their hive if they feel it is threatened, so you don’t want to keep your hives near busy foot traffic or close to a children’s play area. Also, hives need at least 5 feet of space on all sides, and if you have multiple hives, they should be at least 3 feet apart. Finally, you probably need at least 25 feet of space from the front of the hive to keep out of the bees’ flight path because being too close can make them very upset. Otherwise, they might get cranky, especially if it is an exceptionally hot summer or the bees are unwell for some reason.
4. Bee Deaths and Learning Curves Can be Hard
Sometimes, despite all of your best efforts, entire colonies can die. We don’t always know why bees die, but it can be devastating to find your entire colony is deceased. Sometimes it happens due to personal error, weather, or bee illness. You need to be prepared for this to happen, especially when you are new to beekeeping.
There is a lot to learn about beekeeping, and you probably should start learning it before you get your first hive. Since beekeeping can be dangerous – both for the keeper and for the bees – you need to be well prepared to handle your bees in the best way possible to prevent problems.
5. Local Laws Might Restrict Beekeeping
Depending on where you live, you might not be allowed to keep bees. You need to check with your local laws to make sure you live somewhere beekeeping is permitted. You might need to have a certain amount of land or be a safe distance from other homes in order to have your own beehives.
6. Beekeeping May Require Lots of Expenses and Supplies
Beekeeping isn’t an inexpensive hobby. You’ll need to purchase supplies such as hives, beekeeping suits to protect yourself from stings, smokers, and of course, the bees. It can be expensive to purchase the right kinds of bees, and if they die, you’ll need to replace them.
Final Thoughts on Beekeeping
There are just as many reasons not to get bees as there are to keep bees. Beekeeping is a commitment both to the bees and to the safety of the people around you. You need to do your best to prevent dangerous swarms and bee deaths. You also need to do your best to keep your bees fed and healthy and keep them out of the path of humans. If you set up a hive and discover that beekeeping just isn’t for you, you might have a hard time getting rid of your bees, so choose wisely before you jump in.
However, if you have the time and resources to keep bees and you are excited about beekeeping and honey, it might be a great resource and source of income for your homestead and family. Beekeeping is rewarding both for you and your bees.