What’s going on with bees?
Honeybees are amazing creatures, and we are lucky to share this planet with them. In just a day one bee, will collect and deposit material from over 100 flowers, working hard with their wings flapping 11,400 times per minute. They’re responsible for pollinating $20 billion, that’s right billion, worth of food per year, which is up to 80% of the crops in the United States.
Not only are they incredibly beneficial to the environment, the economy, the crops, and the flowers, but they’re also solely responsible for creating the one and only insect byproduct that is edible to humans: Honey. You won’t enjoy eating a spider’s webs, you won’t have a good time chewing on a hornet’s nest, but you could eat honey on toast every day and have a darn good time doing it!
The honeycombs they build from their secretions are engineering marvels – six-sided structures at a precise 120-degree angle. The “glue” holding it together is used as a treatment for everything from canker sores to eczema. Honeybee venom can ease; rheumatoid arthritis pain, is being studied as a possible HIV preventative, and their brains are being studied as a possible cure for dementia for their ability to stop and reverse the aging process.
It takes 300 of them flying a combined 55,000 lifetime miles to make just one pound of honey, which when multiplied by 285 million equals the amount Americans consume every year.
With all of these quirks and benefits that bees provide, you’d think we would take better care of our honey-buddies, yet for all the wondrous things they do and create, honeybees are in serious trouble today. After years of exposure to; pesticides, insecticides, pollution, cell phone radiation, and poor nutrition, their numbers are slowly dwindling. Many are even so stressed, they lose their will to return to their hives.
“Beekeepers lost 40% of their hives last year,” says Lee Knight while driving on a cold November day in Utah. It is the off-season for Lee and his family-owned business, Knight Family Honey. “It’s death by a thousand cuts.”
In the United States, we have seen the issues that bees are facing, and they’re taking action. Whether it’s through spreading awareness or by taking more direct action. For these and other reasons, beekeeping has become one of the most popular hobbies, or full-time jobs, in the country. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, commercial bee producers are responsible for about 60% of the honey produced each year.
What can I do to help?
You can start your own apiary!
The practice of beekeeping can be, traced back more than 15,000 years. Beehives are common in many of the excavated tombs of Egyptian royalty as well, and that’s good news for us. If they could figure it out 15,000 years ago, we can figure it out in our backyards today! If you’re interested in beekeeping, you can get your setup going with just a bit of elbow grease and dedication. You will have to do a bit of independent research! Consider this to be a gentle introduction for beginners, just to help you get on your feet.
What do I need?
- Jars, containers, and bottles – Bees make honey, and you’re not gonna want them to keep it all to themselves, you’re gonna need a place to put all that good stuff when you harvest it! Try out our 32 oz Canning Jars for storage, and our 12 oz Honey Bear Jars or our collection of Tureen Jars for packaging.
- Gloves and a hat veil – Even though honeybees don’t want to sting you, that doesn’t mean that they won’t use those stingers as a last resort if they feel threatened. Cover your bases with protective equipment!
- Beehive smoker – Another thing to curb those stingers, a beehive smoker will help to calm and distract the bees while you’re harvesting honey, moving the hive, or just admiring your hard work.
- Wooden beehive – Preferably of a wax-coated variety, this is going to be where your little buzzy-buddies hang out. Tiny furniture and TV’s optional.
- Bees – Arguably, the most important part of a beehive. It is recommended that you start with two colonies.
Once you have your apiary sorted out, your bees are going to start doing what bees do: make honey. You’ll need a way to process all of that honey and properly store it.
- Plastic pails – For storing your larger quantities of honey, plastic pails are an excellent food-safe option. You’ll probably also need lids.
- Pail heaters – When honey is stored at the wrong temperature, it will crystallize. By utilizing the Powerblanket Honey pail heaters, you can ensure that your honey will stay at the right temperature.
- Faucets – These will allow you to tap your honey and flow it directly into your buckets or jars. Without a faucet, you’ll have to scoop or scrape the honey into your containers, which is time-consuming and tedious
Now I know what to get, but where can I get all of it?
Well, you’re obviously in the right place for jars, and you can order everything else on the internet! Alternatively, make sure you check around your neighborhood for small businesses, hardware stores, and even local farms for your beekeeping supplies.
Okay, now I have all of these honeybees, but what do I do with all this honey?
We are so glad you asked. Here at the Jar Store Idea Center, we post tons of blogs with ideas for small businesses, so browse our blogs and check back often for new crafts, tips, and tutorials!
You can package up your honey and sell it at local farmer’s markets, you can give it away to friends, or hoard it all to yourself! Raw honey doesn’t expire if properly stored (talk about a miracle food!) so you can keep it for as long as you like.
You can also take your beeswax and make fragrant DIY candles! We offer a large line of candle jars and we would love to see photos if you decide to utilize any of our containers for your homemade beeswax candles.