As most folks know I have a crazy amount of native bees of all shapes and sizes and that I am and have massively expanded my food forest and that has and includes more an more bee supporting native plants of all kinds..
One of the area’s that we are lacking on the farm is a 0 mile sugar, while I can and have tapped the sugar Maples, the one lot that I had permisson to tap has new owners and while they do not use their maples, they will not allow anyone else either, which is very sad indeed as they are big older trees that are outstanding.. then yet another area of bush that had sugar maples that I had forage/tapping rights on sold to someone else and they have clear cut the forest to turn it into yet more flooding crop land.. I used to within walking/wagon distance also had big huge old sugar maples along the creek and I sighed deeply this year in 2021 as most of them were cut down, sadly to be hauled away as fire wood..
Even if I planted on my own land (which is a issue as maple leaves and horses are not a great mix), it would take many years to grow the trees big enough to get to harvest stage, and I have limited land, but I have friends that have more land, run maple stands and sell maple syrup each year, I will support them.
That leave me with sugar beets or honey bees.. I am going honey bees.. I have signed up for a two day training course, pre-reserved two nucs from a beekeeper up the road about 15ish min away, who has been raising and breeding bees for the past 30 years locally, while his first stock started out as Russian, he calls them super mutts at this point and they are bred to thrive right in my neck of the woods..
PERFECT! I am only need/want what one productive hive produces per year but there is a lot of reasons to go with two hives, ideally it means that I can harvest less per hive, still get what I need and have them feeding on their own honey and not feeding them.. If one is struggling, I can use the stronger to help the weaker, if one hive dies over winter, I still have the other and so on..
It does mean I will need to do some “swath” row planting in inner pasture areas for mass feeding plantings while other things finish being planted/grow but that is fine.. We will all learn as we go
I am excited to be adding in the hives, not because I need the pollinators, I have them in droves, but to get myself a 0 mile sugar source while using what we already have to support it..
Lots of updates to follow as I share how it goes.. Do you have bees? How was your learning curve? How many hives to you keep? Are you further north? Do you overwinter successfully often?