What is an apiary?

Bee.

An apiary is the land or area where a person purposely places several hives for bees to live. The apiary can be built to help with agriculture, to collect honey, or both. An apiary is beneficial to the agricultural land that surrounds it, as it encourages bees to remain in the area. In turn, bees assist in pollination, which helps vegetables and fruits to grow. Typically, a hive provides enough bees to pollinate an acre of crops.

Honey.

Vegetables, fruit trees and other plants require pollination to produce vegetables or fruits. If pollen is not spread from one plant to another, the plant will only produce flowers. Bees help spread pollen from one plant or tree to the next while completing their own task of collecting pollen.

In an apiary, several beehives are placed on pallets. Special scents are used to attract queen bees to the hives. While the queen sits in the hive, she sends her workers to collect pollen and nectar from the flowers in the area. Pollen is used by the bee colony as protein to keep them well-nourished while they go about their business. After worker bees ingest the nectar they collect, they regurgitate it and store it in the hive’s honeycombs. That’s how honey is made.

A queen bee surrounded by assistants. Special scents are used to attract queen bees to apiary hives.

Beekeepers build an apiary for the bees in order to give them a suitable area to produce an ample supply of honey. When it comes time to collect the honey, the beekeeper introduces a small amount of smoke into the hive. This causes the bees to go dormant. The beekeeper can then reach the hive and remove several honeycombs, making sure to leave enough for the bees to eat. When the honeycombs are removed and the hive is closed again, the bees work hard to replace the missing combs.

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Buckwheat fields are an ideal location for an apiary.

Typically, an apiary is installed in a field of flowers that help to produce quality honey. The best location for an apiary is in a field of clover, orange blossom, heather, blackberry, blueberry, or buckwheat. The flowers around the apiary influence the taste of honey. Clover honey, which is typically very sweet, is most common. Honey made from nectar from fruit trees and shrubs tends to have a more fruity flavor.

Beekeepers use the smoke to put bees dormant so the honey can be collected.

The nectar of some flowers is toxic to humans. Therefore, an apiary should never be placed near these flowers. Azaleas, rhododendrons and mountain laurel, for example, contain grayanotoxin, which can cause irregular heart rhythms, low blood pressure, dizziness, vomiting, and muscle paralysis. Thanks to proper apiary placement, grayanotoxin poisoning from honey is extremely rare in the United States.

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