Last year, my mother and I decided that this summer, we would start beekeeping. The benefits of beekeeping in your back yard are numerous, but our main reasons were that we wanted to harvest the honey and the wax, and we wanted to make sure all the vegetables and fruits in our garden were well pollinated. I also think it is just fun to watch the bees and it should hopefully be educational for Elijah.
Well, my mom and I signed up for a bee keeping class in Fort Collins, which we took this month. Last weekend my boyfriend helped us build a top bar hive (okay, he pretty much did everything, including designing it, but I paid for the materials, and I did help some). On Wednesday, we were offered a swarm of bees from another local backyard beekeeper, and on Friday morning she installed them. Last night, my mom, Jeremy, Elijah and I all went out to open up our hive and see how the bees were doing in there.
Wow, they’re doing well! They’ve built a lot of comb already and are starting to fill them with honey, pollen
and brood! I’m so excited!
You really hardly notice the bees. Even though I have a hive right in my back yard, my yard does not seem to be teeming with bees. Its not like a constant swarm is flying out of the hive, just one or two every few minutes. I doubt any of my neighbors will even notice them. In fact, I’ll bet I could get another hive, maybe even two more, before the number of bees would be noticeable.
I think they will do wonders for my garden, which is growing beautifully, despite the post Mother’s Day snow we got here in Denver. I’m not expecting great things from my broccoli and cauliflower, but besides that, I think my crops are going to be okay. If you remember, we have an 8×40 foot raised garden bed in our back yard, which I dedicate to veggies and melons. This year, I have the following things planted or scheduled to plant
- Radish, both red and white
- Onions – yellow, purple and green
- Snow peas
- A variety of herbs
- Tomatoes (16 plants in all, including about 8 heirloom varieties)
- Sweet peppers (two plants)
- Hot peppers (four plants)
- Potatoes (Russets, Yukon Golds, Reds, and Fingerlings – I’m hoping to buy some Peruvian Blues as well)
- Summer squash
- Cucumber (green and lemon)
- Sweet Corn
- Pole beans
- Bush beans
- Butternut squash
In addition to all this, we now have five fruit trees planted on our property, and one more waiting to be planted. We have an apple tree, a plum tree, a pear tree, a Rainier cherry tree and a crab apple tree (I expect to get fruit from the apple, crab apple, and maybe the plum this year, everything else is too new), and the one waiting to be planted is a cherry tree that has five branches, each of which grows a different kind of cherry.
We also have two raspberry bushes and one blueberry bush (we had two, but one died over winter) and a pumpkin patch behind our swing set that is finally starting to sprout. I’m hoping to get sunflowers planted soon, so I can have sunflower seeds this fall.
I planted a variety of wild flowers near our back fence, to help feed the bees and attract butterflies, and soon I will be planting cosmos and daisies out front to help attract more pollinators and feed our bees. I’m also planting chamomile, lavender and mother of thyme out front, and possibly some morning glories as well. I don’t think we got our asparagus planted in time this year, so hopefully next year we’ll get that worked out.
I am very optimistic about my self produced food prospects this year. I think I’ve got a good setup. Did I also mention that I completed a hunters education course so I can learn to go out and harvest my own wild game with my family? I’m going to have really healthy, local, sustainable food this year for sure. I’m feeling pretty proud of myself right now.