Could I raise bees without taking the honey?
Yes, I attempted to overwinter 2 hives but lost both when they starved to death. I don't know why they didn't make enough honey to last the winter,but I didn't take any of it.
Normally, here we use 2 deep brood boxes, 10 frames each, when both have build up in spring and early summer, honey supers are put on top so bees have room putting surplus honey above brood boxes. This is the only honey to take off. Alberta colonies collect around 100lb of surplus honey each, average, last year I had about 200lb.
Not sure what happened with your bees jammarcus, perhaps you have rain most often and bees can't fly?
If so, then yes, you get no surplus of honey.
I couldn't see my bees not giving room to put surplus honey in, the brood box would get honey bound, queen running out of room to lay and more likely to swarm then.
Perhaps you have a problem in your hive?
I guess what I'm asking is: can I raise bees just to have more pollinators, or do I have to, at any time, take some of the honey away?
I suppose that is a funny question, since many of us think the bees are there to make honey for us. But I don't want any honey. I just want to encourage them around here. But would not taking any honey out, cause any problems?
Perhaps you want to look into native bees like bumbles mason etc.
I find honey bees don't bother much with whatever flowers etc. you have around, they concentrate for the large scale gardens like Dandylion, orchards with many trees, farm sites with tons of nectar source.
For a hive to thrive, honey boxes, [super] is put on for extra room/honey to put in to free up space below, so queen has room to lay eggs. Lets say you have two deep boxes of honey filled then what? Bees don't need this honey for winter, honey bees alway's store away more nectar then they need for themselfs.
Konrad makes some good points, but the answer to your question is, "Yes you make keep honey bees and not take the honey, if you don't want to take it." In nature, honey bees keep all of their honey and the hive lives a long and productive life. Konrad's point about native, solitary bees, such as mason bees is a valid point. For polination purposes, solitary bees (especially mason bees) are a better choice. Regardless of whether you decide to keep honey bees, build some bee boxes to attract mason bees to your garden. See my post titled, "The Case for Mason Bees."
I am developing an "edible landscape" yard and in addition to the evident edible fruits and vegetables I believe it needs mason bee boxes, a honey bee hive, a water feature (good for the bees), a birdhouse and a place to sit and watch nature work its majic.
Keeping honey bees is not that easy as it sounds, each hive has to be registered and the bee keeper should or has to be knowligdeble in what goes on in all aspect, escpecially diasese, this is important as to not spread it to someone else, especially to the beekeeper down the road who makes a livelihood from.
Having bees without taking honey lets me to believe this beekeeper is not able looking after the hive and do everything nessesary for a the health of the colony.
Most bee keepers today still use the proven Langstroth bee hive, patented in October 1852. This construction made it possible to check hives with ease, also the removable frames makes it easy for honey extraction.
You have to be fully commited and spend allot of time keeping bees, ..a nice retirement hobby for some poeple.
I'm not retried yet,..only keep one to five hives.
I'll look into the Mason bees.
I just wanted to help with the honey bee population, without having to do all the work to retrieve honey. Sometimes I think we humans think we have to manipulate nature, for it to work right. I was thinking that, like you said Charlie, that bees would do just fine without removing honey, but I wasn't sure.
Thanks to both of you for your input!
I use a top bar hive, and do nothing at all to 'keep' them. I don't feed them, or fumigate for mites, or handle them at all. In the fall, we move the false back forward to give them a smaller area to heat, then we move the false back again in the spring to give them room to grow. That's all. Oh, we mow a path by the hive so I can walk down there and watch them. They're so interesting. I spent $100 ordering the hive off ebay, and haven't spent a dime since. Feral bees showed up on their own and 'adopted' me. If you want a hands off approach to get pollination and support local bees, set out a top bar hive and see what happens. It's working wonderfully for us, and its so easy and maintenance free.
As far as an untended colony being a danger to commercial beekeepers, who are you gonna blame for the feral bees in the woods? Or do you think we should seek out and destroy all bees except the ones that serve man for profit? Bees aren't only for making money. They can exist for their own sake. Or just for enjoyment.
My advice is to try it and enjoy. It works for us.
That's up to you, not doing anything can work a couple of years,
eventually most will die out. They need new combs for the health of bees.
European honey bees were brought here by man not too long ago for both, pollination and honey. These are the only bees here what make a surplus of honey.
I don't really see much of a benefit keeping these bees and not taking honey.
I have a fruit orchard with several hundred trees, native bee population is good enough for the pollination. When purchasing honey bees, I didn't see any difference.
So,..helping out your native bee population would make more sense if you want to help bees in general.
Somebody else is backing up in what I've seen myself.
An international study involving a University of Calgary researcher has found that managed honey bees aren't nearly as successful at pollinating as their uncultivated cousins.
Here is a link that might be useful: University Of Calgary Researcher Says Bees Do it Better If They're Wild
Feral bees out compete native birds and animals.
The threat of feral bees out-competing native bees (there are over 2000 species of native bees which are at risk of extinction).
Here is a link that might be useful: Frequently Asked Questions
The "keeping" of any type of bees requires a certain amount of work by the keeper. You can search these forums or Google up information on keeping Honey bee and/or native bees to learn about keeping. Native bees can be attracted by building them nests ( hollow tubes in bundles). Natives require the least cost and effort and for a garden are probably the best choice.
Here is a link that might be useful: Mason Bee Keeping
I've returned to this thread again.
I do have a mason bee house that I need to put up.
I tend to believe as Charlie does.
Perhaps the very nature of man-made bee hives requires upkeep, or they die off......because it isn't natural?
Anyhow.........I'm looking forward to seeing how my mason bee house does. And hey.........maybe that will be too "man-made" too. I have 35 acres of mostly woods and a field.......so maybe I just shouldn't even interfere?
I always try to do what's best for the natural order of things.
It does get hard and disconcerting, though, to have so many non-native plants/animals on the property. Seems like the balance is already destroyed.
"That's up to you, not doing anything can work a couple of years, eventually most will die out."
This is simply not true. Bees survive in the wild just fine, and there's actually quite a bit of evidence that Colony Collapse disorder is affecting managed langstroth hives significantly more than it is affecting wild/feral hives.
Mason bee blocks are really easy to build, so of course set some of those up (drill some holes in a block of wood. Done.) But there's also no reason you can't set up an unmanaged hive
(Just be careful, some jurisdictions require hives to have removable combs for inspection, which means no Peronne hives, but you can keep top-bar, warre, or langstroth hives).
This is simply not true. Bees survive in the wild just fine, and there's actually quite a bit of evidence that Colony Collapse disorder is affecting managed langstroth hives significantly more than it is affecting wild/feral hives. It is true for Honeybees,...see subject of post, you might want to read from beginning.
Not a beekeeper, just starting to get into it due to "inheriting" a hive which is on my farm.
FWIW, the above mentioned hive was untouched for 8 years. I got motivated this spring as looking at it, it was starting to seriously deteriorate, rotten wood, etc. but still had plenty of bees.
Found another beekeeper who will work with me in rehiving that one in exchange for putting a couple more hives here. I decided to build a top bar hive just for a hobby type activity.
Another FWIW the hive which sat untended was placed here empty and the guy was going to trap and bring a swarm when he had one. I noticed a couple of weeks later that bees were flying in and out. Called him and he came and inspected, laughed and said a wild swarm had moved in. Do the "wild" bees have a better tolerance to being untended?
Again, not a beekeeper, just an interested neophyte.
No, ..honey bees, European, are a fairly new species, [a couple of hundred years] introduced to north America, they can't cope with diseases here untended.
Even in Europe they have problems,...since the world has gotten smaller and when we brought in other bees half a world away with diseases/pest etc.