By Hugh Finlay
If you have a honey bee hive in your garden you can expect to have better honey than commercial honeys. This is because your garden, if you do not use chemical sprays, provides a purer, more natural, and less stressed environment than is the case with big commercial honey producers.
The commercial honey producers create their honey in a way that is more like factory farming - large amounts of bees in one area. These cramped conditions make the bees much more prone to parasites and diseases. Furthermore, in commercial production areas, honey bees are more likely to encounter crops and plants that have been sprayed with chemicals. Quite often these crops such as corn, and soy are genetically modified. This depletes the honey bee population, which die from being poisoned by chemicals, or from disease, making it necessary to bring in more bees, trucked in over huge distances, to replenish the half empty hives. So, life is hard and stressed for bees on big honey farms.
Here your back garden comes to the rescue. In your garden there is a much greater variety of plants for honey bees to forage from. Your garden offers more territory for the hive to forage from, unhampered from many other hives close by. Your garden provides a purer environment for bees, as it is not sprayed with chemicals, and does not have genetically modified plants. In this environment, honey bees are less prone to stress. They are not being poisoned and are therefore much less prone to disease or parasites.
Back garden honey makes up about 25% of all US honey production, and is the safest, most sustainable way to produce honey nowadays. So the more people who take up honey production in their gardens, the better, for the survival of the honey bee in the US.
Apart from getting great tasting organic local honey, having a bee hive in the garden greatly increases the yield of other fruit or vegetables that are grown in the garden. For instance, it will increase the yield of blueberries by as much as 1,000 pounds per acre.
If you do not want to have a bee hive in your garden, you can still help honey bees, and other species of bees, such as bumblebees, by planting a wide variety of flowers in the garden. Clover and dandelions are among the most popular types of flowers with bees.