Pollinators are your garden’s best friend! Pollinator insects are key to the environment, they ensure the production of seeds for flowering plants as well as producing 1/3 of the food that we eat. The decline of pollinators is an ongoing problem for the environment, so at Ken’s Gardens we decided to “bee” proactive! Both of our main locations, Intercourse and Smoketown, have a honey bee hive on site. Smoketown had a beehive last year, and it was so successful for both the plants and the bees that we added one to the Intercourse location for this year! What is the best part of our bees? They will leave you alone! The only time to use caution is on a breezy day where they might get caught in your hair. We comfortably work right next to the hive, but wearing a hat is the best way to prevent stings.
Smoketown’s beehive is located directly next to the trial vegetable garden beds. Our vegetable garden yields are indeed higher because of the beehive! The Smoketown hive has currently 50,000 to 60,000 bees and has produced 120 pounds of honey this season so far. The Intercourse beehive is located in the perennial growing area, which is off limits to customers since the hive is still growing. If you have visited either store, you wouldn’t be surprised to see our honey bees filling their bellies with pollen and nectar in our perennial yards and in with the annuals. We have made it our mission to minimize any spraying of chemical insecticides on our plants to ensure our bees safety.
Larry Beiler, of Beiler Beehives, cares for both of our beehives; he checks on them weekly and will harvest honey when necessary.
Bees require a lot of honey to be stored throughout winter, and Larry is sure to keep them well stocked! Honey combs can only have honey harvested once the comb is capped like so:
Larry will also check the hives for mites; he sets up a drone comb to examine the amount mites and to watch for any diseases.
Honey bees have a lot of different roles within the colony; here is a stinger-less drone bee! Yes, you can hold drones with the help of a beekeeper.
If you see a swarm of honey bees, don’t panic, call a local beekeeper. Swarming bees mean their queen bee has left the hive for some reason and the bees need to be rehomed. To learn more about honey bees, National Geographic has some good information.