A Story of Local Backyard Beekeeping

Pamela Vosbein, a resident of Bush, La. committed immediately, two years ago, to the practice of keeping honey bees in her suburban backyard and collecting their honey in order to: help honey bees procreate, pollinate her garden, use as a natural remedy for illnesses and share all natural honey with her community. Pamela worried about beginning this process in fear that she would destroy the entire colony of bees and, in turn, harm her environment.

According to the Louisiana Beekeepers Association, Inc., “Pesticides have wiped out most of the native varieties of honey bees. Current bee populations are also under attack by parasites and disease, and they are losing the battle.”

Suburban bee keepers, for the most part, like to keep around 100 to 200,000 bees. In good season, this could produce approximately 15 gallons of honey. This is part of a movement saving our honey bee population and environment.

“This year I have four hives with full honey supers. I have not extracted yet this year. If I do, I estimate I could extract as much at 15 gallons of honey,” says Vosbein.

While that seems like a lot of honey, several people prefer the taste of all-natural honey. Even so, there are far more uses for honey than just pleasurable consumption. Numerous people also struggle to find a consistent amount of local-unprocessed honey for their sicknesses.

Pamela said one of the reasons she began this process was because she has Ulcerative Colitis and follows the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. “The one sweetener allowed on this diet is honey because it is a simple sugar and can actually be digested without causing additional damage to the colon,” she said.

According to the Louisiana Beekeepers Association’s website, “Honey has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It is used in many holistic antibacterial and anti-inflammatory products, beauty products and even shampoo. In addition to honey, bee venom and propolis (bee glue) are also being used in holistic remedies, in products such as antibacterial lotions and even toothpaste. Bee venom is being used in trials for acne, and bee sting therapy is being used for inflammation and wrinkle reduction.”

While all of this is important, a number of beekeepers join this journey in order to help pollinate their gardens. Furthermore, “honeybees’ nectar-gathering range allows them to fly outside your yard and pollinate extended areas,” says Vosbein. It is vital that we keep pollination alive so that our ecosystem can continue to be diverse and sustainable.

Phil Villarubia, another local beekeeper, inspired and mentored by Vosbein explained, “I was encouraged initially by the need for my cucumber plants to get pollinated. At first, I was going to plant flowers that would attract bees, but after talking with my co-worker Pam, I decided to research beekeeping on the internet and ended up buying equipment for my first hive that day.”

It is important to keep in mind that beekeeping is not for everyone because of fear, space limitations and allergies. According to Louisiana’s Beekeeping Association, “Base-level beekeeping requires periodic inspections during the warm months to make sure your queen is laying eggs, your workers are building up honey stores, your colony has enough space to expand appropriately and your hive is not pest ridden. “ One must be dedicated and enthusiastic in order to keep up with this hobby.

Beekeeping in a manageable hobby/job to accomplish with the right mindset and perspective. The costs that come with this hobby may intimidate those who are interested. “The five generalized tools you need as a beekeeper are protective gear, the smoker, the hive tools, the bee brush and your extracting equipment,” according to biologist Randy Oliver.

“Starting from the ground up can be costly. The initial investment is high, but if you limit the fancy tools you buy you can earn your investment back over time. The best way to make it more affordable is to do it along with family and friends. Sharing equipment and tools helps reduce the cost,” says Vosbein.

Oliver stated, “Beekeeping is an exhilarating hobby with plenty benefits. It is important, for communities, to get educated on honey bees and their importance to daily life. Current beekeepers should continue to encourage and mentor future beekeepers – in hopes of replenishing the honey bee population.” Both Pamela and Phil have inspired a couple of their friends and family to partake in this hobby.

“I hope to encourage more as I learn and grow my hive count,” said Pamela.

It is members of our community like Pamela and Phil who aid in keeping our environment strong. Their interest, dedication and passion to beekeeping and inspiring others to do so are remarkable. Let’s be more like Pamela and Phil.

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