Pros and Cons of Backyard Beekeeping

bee on white blossoms - pros and cons of backyard beekeeping

Apart from the fact that bees can sting when irritated, many homeowners overlook the critical role that these insects play in our daily lives. Bees are master pollinators and are responsible for $15 billion in food crops within the U.S alone. When a bee visits plants in search of nectar, it spreads pollen to other crops and facilitates the growth of apples, watermelons, citrus fruits, cucumbers and more.

Keeping bees in your backyard is an excellent way of growing your garden and boosting local bee populations. As you’re probably aware, bees are vanishing mysteriously from many different parts of the world. This colony collapse disorder is alarming and the consequences that result might be extensive. Every small contribution is useful for preserving our threatened bee populations.

Pros Of Beekeeping In Your Backyard

If you’re thinking of keeping bees in your yard, you’re on the verge of making a great decision. Bees will benefit you and the environment in the following ways:

1. Keep Your Plants Healthy

If you grow food crops, flowers or any other types of plants, bees will help you liven up your garden. Your bee colonies will pollinate the vegetables in your garden and promote better harvests within a single season.

Whether you’re growing apples, carrots, onions or sunflowers, bees will be your best friends in promoting greater fertility and better yields.

2. Get Fresh Honey

As you would expect, keeping bees will help you harvest honey and wax. Worker bees can visit as many as 100 flowers in a day to collect nectar. This nectar is then used to produce honey for the colony, including the queen.

Through responsible harvesting, you can obtain healthy honey harvests at least twice a year. This means that you won’t have to spend money purchasing honey from outside sources. Even better, you can sell this honey and receive an income to cover some of your start-up and ongoing expenses. 

3. Improve Biodiversity

Bees tend to favor some types of flowers over others. If you wish to grow more of an underserved plant species, bees are the perfect pollinators for promoting this growth. Worker bees have bodies that are optimized for pollen transfer. From their feet to their wings, bees inadvertently collect and transfer pollen from the anther of one plant to the stigma of another. The result is a more biodiverse garden for your home.

Cons Of Backyard Beekeeping

beekeeper and bees - the pros and cons of backyard beekeeping

The primary cons associated with beekeeping are costs and stings. If you’re allergic to bee stings, you may need to have an emergency response plan in place in case you end up getting stung. In a very few cases, beekeepers have gradually developed an allergy to bee stings. The good news is that bees don’t sting unless provoked. If you practice proper safety procedures, stings will be rare.

The more significant cons associated with beekeeping are the start-up and operational expenses. You’ll need to purchase some basic supplies (such as honeycombs, jars and protective gear) before you can get started. You can recover the initial costs if you’re able to get your honey to the market daily. In cases where the bees get a disease or require special care, you’ll need be prepared to cover the costs of expert help from a veterinary professional. 

How to Support Local Bee Populations

If you can keep bees in your backyard, you can help limit the impact of colony collapse disorder. If that’s not feasible for you, however, there are other ways you can help support your local bee populations.

Plant vegetation that bees like: If you have a garden but you can’t currently keep bees, consider planting what bees like. Many plants are almost entirely pollinated by bees. In Colorado, for example, sunflowers, blue giant hyssops, and goldenrod are local favorites for bees.

Don’t destroy bee habitats: Another way of supporting your local bee colonies is by maintaining bee populations. Not all bees live in trees. Others (such as the bumblebee) are solitary and may live inside logs, mulch, or loose soil. If you have such areas in your yard, keep them intact and avoid using toxic pesticides.

Support local beekeepers: Beekeepers are at the forefront of sustaining what’s left of our bee populations. Give them a helping hand by donating supplies, purchasing their products and making contributions. For example, beekeepers can always use hives, jars, and seeds for planting new bee-loving crops. You should also keep an eye out for upcoming flea markets so you can purchase local honey, wax and other products. Buying directly from beekeepers not only supports the local economy, but you also get the freshest products available.

image 1: Thijs van der Weide; image 2: Timothy Paule II

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