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Beekeeping w/ Johnson's Honey Farm

"Beekeeping is a wonderful thing," Paula said as she began her class at our Nursery this past Saturday. Paula Morton would know- she is a 3rd generation Beekeeper of Johnson's Honey Farm in Goodlettsville. Paula has worked with bees since she was a child, and her love for them and their vital role in our environment is infectious once you begin talking with her!

(photo of Paula at Franklin Farmer's Market where she and her family sell their amazing honey and even have an observation area for kids to learn about bees!)

Saturday's class was a refresher for me on hives and beekeeping, as I have not embarked on that adventure in my own life before. :D Below is a short recap of what was discussed, and, as you can see, Lily, our mascot cat at Riverbend, was very intrigued by the subject too (see what I mean?! Look at the next three photos to spot Lily!)!

General Information about Bees and Keepin' Them:

*Worker girls, boys, and the Queen make up the hive. The Queen can lay up to 3,000 eggs a day (or every 4.5 seconds!!!)!!

*You can tell the Queen is "The Queen" by looking to see who all the bees are surrounding. She looks different than all the other bees- she is the largest with an elongated body. The Queen is like the Mama to the hive. Paula has only twice seen two Queens in a hive, and that was only when it was a sister/sister or a mother/daughter.

*Boy bees are wider in size than the Queen.

*Bees are known to be fine and even tempered in April, May, and June, but as Paula said, "In July, they get hot and ornery and they will sting you!"

*During these next 2-3 weeks right before Spring, beekeepers watch their bees careflly to make sure they're doing alright before the weather warms up.

*To protect your bees from cold, especially, for example, a random unseasonably cold night late Spring, put tarps down on top of the beehives to insulate the bees as much as possible.

*Hive beetles are a pest of hives. Once a colony of beetle larvae is present in the hive, the honey is unfit for consumption. There is a natural way to eliminate these pesky insects through the use of Hive beetle traps. These were recommended and can be found online. Chemicals can also be used.

"If you like bees, you can bee keep. We're social beings, bees are social creatures too." -Paula Morton

*Paula advised for you to ask these beginning questions before you get started: If you have an HOA, can you keep bees? Find out or you can be heavily fined! An obvious question, but have you been stung by a bee before- how was your reaction? You definitely do not need to keep bees if you are highly allergic, because even with protective gear, Paula assured us you WILL get stung every once in awhile. Your body gets used to the sting (as long as you're not severely allergic).

What you need to begin Beekeeping:

1) Equipment. Frames, inner covers, top, boxes. Paula recommends starting off with two boxes. Do you want 8 frames or 10 frames? How high do you want your hive to be?

2)Protective Gear. Paula recommends purchasing a suit with a zipper front for the best protection.

3)Bees! April 15th-May15th (approximately) is the best time to purchase bees. You have to register your new bees, and they come with all the information to do that.

What kind of flowers attract Bees and make good pollen sources?

*Bee pollen is protein to their diet. Therefore, growing a wide variety of flowers in your garden is great. Bees love bright colored flowers and ones they can fly onto and "sit" upon.

*You won't typically see bees near tubular flowers, like Foxglove, for example, because they do not have the ability to get down into the flower where the nectar is.

*Great flowers for bees include Roses, Daisies, Coreopsis, Lantana, Sunflowers, and Verbena- just to name a few that come to mind. Coming out to the Nursery in Spring or Summer, you will easily see which plants bees are attracted to! :D Planting a great variety of flowering perennials, shrubs, and annuals will make your bees very happy, as well as produce more honey for you too!

If you are really interested in getting started in beekeeping but want to know other beekeepers (community is a beautiful thing, after all!), Paula recommends joining up with NABA- Nashville Area Beekeeper Association. Often there are local groups that meet in smaller counties around this area, too. You can find all the information you need right here.

Thank you to all who came to the first of many in our Complimentary Spring Class lineup!! Below is the full list and we hope you will be able to come to any one or ALL of these valuable workshops!

Have a great one!

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