After the huge response we had to last week's 'Beehive Live', we've invited the Backyard Beekeeping dream team, Haley and Rodger Mason from Settler Hives to tell us a bit about bees, seeds, and Settler Hives
How did this all come together - Bees & Seeds?
Funny enough Settler Hives started as an instagram account to show our friends and family how interesting we were finding beekeeping for the first time (and our hilarious amateur attempt lessons we were learning). It just kept growing because we enjoyed sharing what we learnt. We loved it so much we knew this could be a way of making a living working together. But not by being commercial beekeepers, which to even make some type of margin from you have to own and operate hundreds (or thousands) of beehives depending where you live. So that wasn’t a lifestyle choice option for us because you need to move the beehives around to follow the flowers in bloom and that’s a whole lot of km’s, high risk in hive losses and a serious amount of time just to make a few nickels off honey. So we kept brainstorming - it was our favourite thing to talk about... ‘How could we do this and help the whole loss of pollinator scenario that’s been declining across the globe?’
Well on a road trip one day the seed literally just dropped (pun intended). We could sell flower seeds!!! To feed the bees, wild flowers, edible flowers, cut flowers, herbs and garden greens and ultimately feed ourselves! Yes!!
Each of us helping our own local bee population is really so easy. It’s not about seven billion beekeepers, it’s about seven billion people that care.
Growing flowers as their food source is literally the best thing we can do for them. The more diversity the pollinators have in their local environment the healthier their little guts will be. If you think of our own gut health, the more nutrient rich diverse foods we eat the healthier we are/feel.. It’s the same for bees!
Three things Bees need;
So the three things bees mainly need are:
If you can create these experiences on your balcony, you’ll see all kinds of pollinators eventually coming to visit (and telling their mates).
Why we find it so gratifying;
For us, watching the girls (yes the majority of the honey bee population is female) come and go from the hive is soooo interesting! We find ourselves trying to guess what type of pollen is coming in. Big yellow pollen baskets when dandelions are flowering … are we witnessing the dandelion forage?? Sometimes you’ll see purple, green and white little pollen pants. Look up and see what’s blooming around you. Usually when you see bulk pollen coming in you can bet the queen is in there laying nice and prolifically too. Bulk baby bees means they need bulk pollen to feed them with. So we take that as a good sign before we start an inspection.
It’s so funny what things we get excited and ‘nerd out’ over now. Whether it’s finding a frame of honey that they’ve filled in a week (which blows our minds), or checking a fully laid out frame of solid brood (new baby bees will be hatching soon) it’s just incredible to witness up close. But it’s also a huge responsibility, mis-managing a beehive can mean a spread of deadly diseases which can wipe out colonies without you possibly even realising. So we want to learn everything we can about them to make sure honey bees excel.
These dry conditions over the last few years up here have been super tough on them. Without feeding some of the hives (home made sugar syrup that goes directly into the managed beehive) they would starve in the winters because there hasn’t been enough flowers around to collect and store adequately (you obviously don’t pull honey in these times). There is just so much you can learn in their little ecosystem alone. We hope we never stop learning.
- Roger and Hayley Mason, Backyard Beekeepers
Check out Settler Hives below
Or buy their beautiful seed packs here