Wednesday, September 25, 2019

FUN with Bees

Beehives at First Christian Church

Bees are one of the most beneficial animals in the world. As pollinators, they play an essential role in food production. According to the FDA, over 90 crops depend upon pollination by bees. In the US, over 35% of our food crops rely on bees to grow and thrive. Their benefit as pollinators help to improve crop production and increase yields, which in turn promotes food security and healthy diets. The pollination action of bees help to sustain native habitats, promote plant diversity, and provide sources of food for both wild and domestic animals. For all of these reasons, FUN is thrilled to maintain beehives at our food production sites.

FUN is very fortunate to have its very own apiarist. Barbara, a co-founder of FUN, is a beekeeper and maintains hives in her own back yard. FUN was a recipient of beehive equipment through the Beehive Distribution Program of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Some of those hives now reside at First Christian Church (FCC), FUN’s future site of a food forest and annual vegetable garden.

In May, Barbara installed the hives at FCC and secured the donation of a “nuc” - a nucleus hive that included a mated queen, nurse bees, eggs (or future bees) and plenty of food. By the end of the first month, the queen laid enough eggs and the forage bees had collected enough pollen and nectar to add another box with 5 more frames. In June, FUN added a second hive to FCC’s backyard. This hive also expanded enough to add a second box. Over the summer, the forage bees collected nectar and pollen from plants to convert into honey and stores for the winter. Barbara checks on the hive’s progress every few weeks and will prepare the hives for the colder weather to ensure the hives’ survival into the Spring. The honey stays in the hive for the first year. If too much of the hives’ stores are removed, the bees will starve over the winter. It will be harvested next July and donated to a local food pantry.

The recipients of honey are sure to enjoy the nutritious, natural and sweet addition to their diets. Eating a spoonful of local honey is known to reduce the negative effects of allergens on sufferers. Recent studies have found that the highly processed sugar and artificial sweeteners in many of our foods is detrimental to our health.  Honey is a natural sweetener. People love to spoon honey into their tea, oatmeal and baked goods!

If you would like to support the hives at FCC, please consider a donation through the Donate page on our website. 

If you have questions about the hives at FCC, please contact us through the Connect page on our website or email us at FUNgardenFC@gmail.com.


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