Melittology: the study of Honey Bees
An apiary (also known as a bee yard) is a place where beehives of honeybees are kept. Traditionally beekeepers (also known as apiarists) paid land rent in honey for the use of small parcels. Some farmers will provide free apiary sites, because they require pollination, and farmers who need many hives often pay for them to be moved to the crops when they bloom. Several years ago, we had the pleasure of housing honey bees in our back yard. It was indeed, a bumper year for the garden, the seed harvest and of course, the delicate honey.
Bees are some of the most gentle and peaceful creatures. They are busy throughout the day and inactive during darkness. I love them for the honey they produce, but also for the important work they do to pollinate my fruits and vegetables. Pollen is the bees’ source of protein and it is essential for feeding the queen and the larvae in their hives. Some of the pollen drops from the bee as it flies from flower to flower – this is when plant pollination occurs. Honey bees pollinate at least 80-percent of our flowering crops, which is one-third of everything we eat. Foods such as apples, broccoli, nuts, asparagus, cucumbers, and many other favorites, need bees to grow, so it is crucial that we take good care of our honey bee populations.
Many of my most memorable garden experiences involve insects. Bees, however take this interaction to a whole new level. Garden chores, with the comforting hum of their busy wings and pollen laden bodies moving tirelessly about like a perfectly choreographed performance, become simplified and effortless. The company of bees is soothing to many of our domestic, furry friends as well. Felines and canines alike can be entertained for hours. The sweet aroma of a strategically positioned hive, wafts delightfully across the largest fields and the smallest of yards. And at the end of the day, we share their honey.