A low, steady hum accompanies the blooms of spring and summer—the hum of thousands of winged pollinators. Each year the honeybees, perfectly designed garden helpers, are called to work, to assist our plants and flowers to thrive. And we are called to action, to protect and encourage them in doing their ever-important jobs.
Naturalist and d?TERRA wellness advocate Lori Dodson has taken this endeavor to heart, checking in regularly on her five hives. “It’s something that you do because you love learning about the nature of the bees, how the hive component works, and how they communicate. You also do it because you love honey! That’s not the main reason, but you do it to save bees, to keep the colonies going.”
She visits her hives every two weeks, and during the honey flow (the height of the blooming season), every week. “Honey flow starts in May, and you harvest the honey between June and July. And you always make sure to leave enough for the colony because if the colony does not have enough through the winter, they’ll starve.” Her bees provide her family with plenty to spare, so she shares with friends and neighbors.
“You’ll want to put your hives in the sun, where they’ll do best,” Lori suggests. And there are several pollinator plants she counts on for the bees’ success, including tea olives and chaste trees. Red clover, tulip poplar trees, muscadine, and wildflowers are others. Lori also has a vegetable garden and several fruit trees that the bees love to frequent. “They are super beneficial to your garden and will increase your production!”
“The irony is, I was very allergic to bees starting out, but decided to go into beekeeping anyway. From being stung, my immunity and tolerance to them has gotten better, so I don’t respond as badly,” she says. “Honey bees are not aggressive, so if you see one out on a flower, it’s not going to come sting you. They’re just out to get pollen.”
You will need a protective jacket and hat, and gloves. Lori recommends Mann Lake, Ltd (mannlakeltd.com) for all the right equipment for a beginner.
This is something that someone can do in their own backyard, she assures. But, she warns you to contact your neighbors to speak to them about what products they use for their lawns. She says that with so many garden and landscaping pesticides in use, honeybees are in danger. She recently went through a major loss due to pesticides, and is rebuilding her hives now. “It’s really tough when you have people who cover their lawns in pesticides,” she says. But there are “green” alternatives available that won’t affect the bees.
Lori, who also does bee removal, procured her bees from a 100-year-old house and a neighboring tree. New beekeepers can order bees online, or buy them from local beekeeping clubs.
She has been keeping the buzz alive for five years and is continually learning new things. Her advice is to “get with a mentor! Beekeepers are great about wanting to mentor. They’re willing to talk, reach out and help you.”
Lori’s animal care doesn’t stop at just bees. Her family has horses and dogs too, and her daughters show their chickens in 4-H. Family time is important for the Dodson clan, and they try to take a family vacation every year to somewhere new and exciting. They’re hoping to take their four children to Ireland next!
Fayette Beekeepers fayettebees.org
Fayette County Beekeepers on Facebook
Georgia Beekeepers Association gabeekeeping.com
Georgia Beekeepers on Facebook