Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Local News

March 7, 2014

Beekeeper buzzes with advice

(Continued)

“Finding a good spot for your bees” is vital. A hive should be located near a river or park if possible. A river gives them an ample water supply and they can dine on the nectar of “lots of native weeds and wildflowers.” If possible, the hive should be installed near a row of trees or shrubs to protect it from too much wind. It must have nice sun exposure to encourage bees to fly.

“Residential neighborhoods, believe it or not, produce excellent honey.” He adds, “Clover and dandelions are beneficial to have in your yard” because the insects love them.

The hive should not be close to a large-scale farm so bees are not exposed to pesticides. If that danger is nearby, the speaker suggests giving a jar of honey to the neighbor and finding out when pesticide will be sprayed. “Keep bees locked up” then.

Instead of insecticide or Surround, growers can use a 20 percent acidic herbicide on crops, which will not impact the beneficial insect population.

“If you’re thinking about a commercial operation, it’s important to have multiple yards at least two miles apart,” according to Stewart. When splitting bees, the new hive must be a distance away, or they will return to their original home. “We have three main yards,” each containing 30-40 hives.

Corn and beans do produce nectar for bees. Stewart plants 6 acres of buckwheat and also alfalfa, both “huge nectar sources for pollinators.” He advises, “Let the alfalfa crop bloom” for the bees. Honey made from buckwheat is almost black in color and has a bitter taste, “great for granola.”

Organic or low-spray apple orchards also produce a significant amount. The insects like to be placed near a dairy operation’s forage fields as well.

Basil, mints and edible flowers are all excellent forage crops for bees. When sage is flowering, “the bees have a field day.”

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