Wild Honeybees Adopted Us!

We started keeping honeybees back in 2014, using top bar hives, no antibiotics or other treatments, and always let the bees keep their honey over winter (that’s why they make it, after all). Whatever they don’t eat, we then harvest in the spring when fresh nectar is coming in and the bees start the process all over again. You can learn more about how we keep our bees here!

We had lost our bees to winter but skipped getting more this year. Turns out Mother Nature wanted us to keep on beekeeping.

What was going on?

I was outside in the backyard when I noticed a LOT of activity by one of our top bar hives. What on earth? It looked like the familiar pattern of bees coming and going from the hive, but the hive had been empty since we cleaned it out.

Curious, I gave my husband a shout and we went up to investigate.

... and sure enough! Wild honeybees!

wild honeybees occupying a top bar hive nightblooming

Holy landing board activity, Batman!  For a moment I thought we might have encountered some bees robbing the comb out of the hive, but the bees’ movement didn’t indicate robbing, and I could see them bringing pollen inside! 

Sure enough, a peek through the side window showed a hive STUFFED with bees!

We were concerned that the new arrivals might be a hot hive (beekeeping term for an aggressive hive), but not at all. These wild honeybees are sweet and gentle, and oh so fuzzy and sparkly! I missed having fuzzybutts so much. 

I made a lot of jokes about newBEES and freeBEES and my husband got that distant, long-suffering stare of his. (Only in jest, he makes more than his share of awful puns.)

The Benefits of Wild Honeybees

Adopting wild honeybees is the best choice for several reasons, though it normally involves capturing a swarm. We had it easy considering they liked our hives and property enough to move right in! When bees are purchased, they most commonly come in packages, and those packages can be of bees that were living far away, not adapted to the harsh Minnesota winters we have here.

Wild honeybee colonies have evolved and adapted to the local environment, making them more resilient to pests and diseases. This means they are less likely to require treatment, which is better for the bees’ health and the environment. Just as importantly, wild honeybees are naturally better suited to pollinating the local flora, as they have evolved alongside those plants. Adopting wild honeybees helps to support the preservation of local biodiversity and by providing a home for a wild honeybee colony, we’re helping to protect a crucial part of the natural landscape. I can’t recommend beekeeping enough, it’s an immensely cool hobby. Overall, adopting these wild honeybees is a great way to support local ecosystems and promote sustainable beekeeping practices.

The Wild Honeybees have a handy water source: our koi poind

My husband and I were awarded a grant from the MN Lawns to Legumes for our pollinator-friendly habitat, and a big part of that is our koi pond. The algae and moss that grow at the side of the spillway makes a perfect place for the wild honeybees to land and drink safely from.

honeybee on my fingertip

How we use honey at NightBlooming

Bees make honey for winter–it’s an amazing natural food that never goes bad. It also provides crucial insulation for the bees in winter (and the winters up here are no joke). Over winter, the bees consume this stored honey. Many commercial beekeepers harvest the honey in fall and leave the bees with sugar (which is as good for bees as it is for you, i.e. not good at all).

We leave the bees the food they worked so hard to collect, and come spring when the flowers bloom and they start to collect fresh nectar, they prefer this to their stored honey. 

Thriae Scalp Scrub NightBlooming

Only when the spring nectar comes in and the bees are on a roll do we harvest the honey they didn’t need over the previous winter. The bees always eat first, it’s their hard work that produced all that honey, after all.

Thriae Scalp Scrub and Alluvial Chelating Crystal rinse are two of my products with honey in them, and it’s honey you can feel great about: ethically and sustainably sourced from organically kept bees. (Honestly they’re more like pets and I love just sitting out by the hives, watching them come and go.)

Thoughts and comments?

Taking care of pollenators is so very important and we’re happy to take the very best care of the wild honeybees that have come to stay with us!

What do you think? Have you ever considered beekeeping?

Don’t forget, you also get Moonseeds for commenting on this update 🙂 

14 thoughts on “Wild Honeybees Adopted Us!”

  1. How magical! We had bee visitors on our lavender plant this spring. Husband has expressed interest in beekeeping but he’s allergic, and I have no idea where to start. This post has inspired me to look back into it.

    1. Oh that’s exciting! Being stung is obviously sort of inevitable, but there are beekeepers that work around it. My husband and I got started by taking a beginner beekeeping class at our local university, and we’ve followed this man’s style of beekeeping most closely: https://bushfarms.com/bees.htm

    1. I’ve for sure thought about it! I might have to make it Patrons only, or a limited quantity, but if people are keen I can look into it!

  2. I always love reading about your beekeeping & so sorry your bees perished but thrilled about the new tribe that had made your beautiful property home! I look forward to reading more updates.

    1. It’s so sad when they don’t make it 🙁 I do think things are getting better for bees in general, they seem to survive more often than they did a few years ago, but I know we lost one hive to someone spraying pesticides (they’re SUPPOSED to notify beekeepers when this happens, but doesn’t always work that way, and bees travel up to 5 miles to gather). I have high hopes for the newBEES though!

  3. I’m sorry to hear your bees died over winter, but it’s exciting that the new ones moved in. We just started beekeeping earlier this year, and it’s been an adventure. Best of luck with the newbees!

    1. Oh congratulations on beekeeping! The first time you’re shaking a 2lb package of unhappy bees, there is for sure a moment of clarity where you’re like… what on Earth am I doing? XD Thank you for the good wishes for the newbees!

  4. I have a very small backyard, so I am unable to keep hives. However, I have been redoing my small garden beds, and alongside my roses( which I love and are the main reason I cared about the backyard to begin with), I have planted alot of plants that are native to southern california and are good for bees and butterflies.
    It’s good to know you have gotten a new colony to adopt you!

  5. I have no intention of keeping bees of my own. But I love watching them in my garden and tries to keep it bee friendly. Lots of flowers, wild and planted and a stream to the ducks pond, that they can drink from.

    I hope that your new beefriends will thrive! <3

  6. Yay for you! That’s so wonderful that you can be a part of that spontaneous nature. Yay for the bees to have found a new, safe home. I’m not a gardener but love to watch the bumble and honey bees visiting the clover in my yard. Best wishes for the winters to come!

    1. Thank you so much! The bees are doing so well I’m actually considering splitting them and putting half in the other hive. The more happy bees out there, the better!

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