Beekeeping Features

In general, beekeeping is a series of activities focused on bee care with the aim of obtaining one or more honey harvests during the beekeeping season.

At the same time, this generates other products or benefits, such as the production of new colonies, queen bees, wax, royal jelly, pollen, bee bread, propolis, apitoxin, and crop pollination. Therefore, the same activity generates many products.

Another fact that can characterize beekeeping is whether it develops in the same place throughout the year, taking advantage of the flowers that each season provides the bee with, within the same territory or, if the beehives are moved around in order to pursue blooms of interest and thus achieving several harvests throughout the year. Currently, this type of beekeeping is the most common in our country.

Apicultura en la Edad Media
Apicultura en la Edad Media

Beekeeping illustrations in the Middle Ages

History of beekeeping

Beekeeping is an ancient activity, such as hunting or gathering wild fruits.

In prehistoric times, the properties of this sweet product were already known and swarms of wild bees were collected to obtain honey. The first record of beekeeping documenting the relationship of mankind with bees is a cave painting found in the cave called l’Aranya de Bicorp in (Valencia) and dated 9,000 years ago.

At that time, it was an activity focused only on extracting and not rearing; it was simply a gathering activity. Nowadays, it is quite the opposite: animals are looked after in the best conditions and then a crop can be harvested.

Templo del sol de Nyuserra-Iny

This is the oldest cataloged image that refers to beekeeping work. It was found in the Temple of the Sun, built by the Egyptian Pharaoh Nyuserra-Iny who reigned 4,500 years ago.

Clases de abejas

Types of bees

There is a widespread misconception that the bee is that yellow and black insect that stings and produces honey.

Although this is partly true, within the taxonomic genus of bees, there are more than 20,000 different species types (some of which are not yet even described).
Honey bees are a very small part of this great diversity. Some live alone and build nests in the ground walls or in small holes, such as the genus Osmia.

There are also those that do not sting and produce smaller amounts of honey, such as the Melipona or Trigona, which only inhabit tropical areas. Some of them live in colonies and have a stingray to defend themselves, such as the genus Bombus or the honey bee we all know, and, that humanity has come to tame through cohabitation.

Abeja polinizando
Bruc d'hivern - Brezo

Winter heather flower, Erica multiflora

Types of flowers

The bees collect the nectar and pollen from flowers to obtain food.

Of all flowers, those that bees are interested in are what beekeepers call “honey-blossom.” We should keep in mind that not all blooms produce nectar, which is what the bee transforms into honey, and on other occasions, the honey bee cannot take advantage of the flowers due to quantity or access problems.

Here in our country, the most widespread flora of interest includes rosemary, thyme, acacia, chestnut, lavender, apple and almond blossom and various mountain and meadow flowers in the Pyrenees.
The floral origin of our honeys is what characterizes them as single-flower, if a particular bloom predominates in a type of honey; or as multi-flower, in the event that a honey has been obtained from a variety of different of flowerings.

Beekeeping Equipment

This is the necessary equipment that allows beekeepers to take good care of their animals and to successfully obtain a quality honey crop.

We need wooden crates to put the bees inside and to protect them from the weather, as well as special clothes to work comfortably in and to avoid being stung. Smokers are also needed to calm the bees, as the smoke causes them to rapidly fill themselves up with honey, so they do not worry about stinging but just eating in case they have to evacuate quickly.

In order to obtain honey, we also need machines called “extractors”, which allow us to extract honey without damaging the honeycombs built by the bees and to return them as they were.

Frequently asked questions

At first, it is quite normal to have numerous doubts when you want to delve into the subject, as beekeeping is a way of life that, to begin with, seems far removed from everything we may have understood so far as production processes.

In this case, it is best to gather as much information as possible and, if possible, reach out to some acquaintance who may already be involved in beekeeping to receive some guidance.

In our shop we have everything you need to get started: books, technical staff capable of guiding you, beekeeping materials and swarms…

Initiation to beekeeping

On setting out in the world of beekeeping, it is important to have a physical space in which to place our beehives.

We need to keep in mind that the more flowering the place has, the better the bees will develop. It is also important that this location is sunny and protected from the wind and cold.
The next step is to obtain everything you need in order to get started: boxes, work equipment, and swarms. All this can be found at our store or by contacting someone who is already engaged in this activity, in order to buy the bees and to learn what type of equipment is needed.

Finally, we can get down to the real business. It is highly recommended to start at a time of year when the bee disposes of a good nectar input and abundant flowers, such as spring, because this way everything will be easier; the colonies will develop well and we shall obtain a good stock of honey, in case of scarcity.

Apicultura en los Pirineos