Why I Keep Bees!

Why do I keep bees?

Our last home sat on 47 acres overlooking the Ohio River.   The home was built in the 30’s and the original owner had cattle, sheep, and chickens.  The chicken coop, which was huge, still stood on the property.  That was one of the reason I decided to start keeping chickens.

In the process of cleaning up the coop for the new chicks, we discovered that bees had built a hive in the walls.  Now when I tell you a hive I mean a big hive.  We predicted that the hive filled a 15′ x 15′ area inside one of the wall’s.  The reason we could tell was when you placed your hand on the interior wall it vibrated.  Now it’s not good for buildings to have hives in them, the honey destroys everything.  But, this hive was not new and it was a barn, and we saw no damage so we left it.  THANKFULLY!

That first year I put in a huge vegetable garden.  I had never grown my own food so I used friends help and books to guide me.  My first year I reaped  an explosion of vegetables and fruits.  MY FIRST YEAR!  Now my friend who was a seasoned gardener and who had her own several year old vegetable garden was stunned.  I actually think she was a little ticked off.  Since I had nothing to gauge it from, I thought my garden looked like everyone else’s.  No she explained your garden looks like it’s on steroids, she put me in her car drove me to her house, walked me in her backyard and pointed to her garden.  There was a huge difference, hers was half the size.  Now I was the one stunned.  Of course my first thought was I am a rock star!  Of course, no that was not the case.  Yes, I did put a crap load of compost in the garden first.  Get it crap load 🙂  But what we figured the biggest differences was I had a resident army of ladies pollinating my garden all day long!  Who knew?  Not me, it was just luck that they were there, that I am the type to not kill first and ask questions later but choose to leave them alone and left them to do their work.  It was an education for me; you really need to depend on natures help to find success in gardening.  It also made me go organic.  I learned spraying to kill bugs, also kills the bugs I need!

Fast forward to where I am now.  We moved into our new home, I put in a garden and guess what?  It didn’t do that well.  So, I ordered my first package of bees.    Now thanks to help from Liz, I have three hives in my backyard with hopefully two more to follow.  So, I thought I would show you some pics of how busy the ladies have been in the garden!

Peach Tree

I had no idea when I started keeping bees, just how many plants need them.

Pear Tree

The list of crops that simply won’t grow without honey bees is a long one: Apples, cucumbers, broccoli, onions, pumpkins, carrots, avocados, almonds … and it goes on.


 Here is the complete list of what bees pollinate!
Fruits and Nuts Vegetables Field Crops
  • Almonds
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Avocadoes
  • Blueberries
  • Boysenberries
  • Cherries
  • Citrus
  • Cranberries
  • Grapes
  • Kiwifruit
  • Loganberries
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Nectarines
  • Olives
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums/Prunes
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew
  • Onions
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Watermelons
  • Alfalfa Hay
  • Alfalfa Seed
  • Cotton Lint
  • Cotton Seed
  • Legume Seed
  • Peanuts
  • Rapeseed
  • Soybeans
  • Sugar Beets
  • Sunflowers

Just remember when you think of  bees simply as a summertime nuisance.  These small and hard-working ladies actually make it possible for many of your favorite foods to reach your table!

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Categories: Backyard Honey Bees

Author:Amy Stafford

I am the author, photographer and creator behind the blog A Healthy Life For Me. I am a food and fitness nut who loves Crossfit, Chocolate and Organic Gardening.

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9 Comments on “Why I Keep Bees!”

  1. April 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    Very cool. Are they hard too keep and do they need a lot of space?

    • April 28, 2012 at 7:27 am #

      Hi Seasonsgirl, Thanks for stopping by. No they are not hard to keep, in the spring is when you do most of the work, just checking on them and making sure they have a enough room so they don’t swarm. It’s actually enjoyable to watch their progress, they are such hard working ladies. You only need space enough to stack your hive and an area to work around, I would say a 4′ x 4′ area would be plenty big enough. There are several restaurants now that are in metropolitan cities, like D.C and N.Y that keep bees on their rooftops to harvest their own honey (not a lot a room up there). See if you have a local beekeepers association in your area, they are a great support system for answering questions and helping set up new hives. Here is a link to my association SouthWestern Ohio Beekeeping http://www.swoba.org/.

  2. Jessica, PrimalSevenPlan
    April 27, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    Wow! I live reading about honey bees. It was fascinating to hear how much your garden benefitted from the pollination. About how much does it cost to start up a hive, do you need lots of equipment?
    Thanks! 🙂

    • Jessica, PrimalSevenPlan
      April 27, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

      Meant to say *love* reading about honey bees, auto-correct is so annoying sometimes!

      • April 28, 2012 at 7:15 am #

        Hey Jessica, Thanks for visiting! Yep those little ladies really make a huge difference in my garden. You do have an initial setup cost, around $150 in equipment, the bees themselves are inexpensive. But, I would suggest contacting your local Beekeepers Association, they may have someone who have extra equipment and will help you set up your first hive. Beekeepers are generous and enthusiastic about helping people get involved in keeping bees. My association SouthWestern Ohio has a lot of information on its page for beginners, check it out. http://www.swoba.org/

  3. April 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    Fascinating! What a great story.


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