Bees

Honey is an excellent food source which requires minimal attention to produce. A “modern” hive consists of two sections. The bottom box called the brood box and the upper box (or boxes) called honey supers. Owning a hive involves checking the brood box once every few weeks during spring / early summer for diseases and general hive health and then less often towards the end of summer and into winter. A single give will produce anything from 20kg to 200kg of honey depending on seasons and flowering plants, plus bees wax which can be used in a variety of ways (eg candles, skin care, waterproofing, timber treatment, etc).

A standard Langstroth hive design (1)image linked from http://www.almanac.com/blog/beekeeping/beekeeping-101-building-hive

The extraction of the honey was traditionally a fairly time consuming process involving extracting the frames, decapping them and then using a centrifuge to spin the honey out for collection. However we now also have the option using Flow Frames (see here) which reduces the harvest labour time by about 90% as the honey is extracted directly at the hive. Bear in mind that using a flow frame does not yield bees wax however.

You can also use a hybrid system of both flow frames and traditional frames or even follow the schemes of natural beekeeping aka the Warre Hive method or the Anastasia Method, both of which allow the bees to be bees without management. I use the hybrid traditional langstroth style hive myself (you read about my honey harvesting from this hive here).

Note: In Western Australia you have to register as a bee keeper with the Department of Agriculture (see here) for biosecurity reasons. Make sure you register the 1st of January if you can however as the fee is fixed for three years and is not adjusted at all for later months registration. For those outside of Western Australia please check with local government to see if there are any requirements or restrictions for bee keeping.

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1. image linked from http://www.almanac.com/blog/beekeeping/beekeeping-101-building-hive