In a season, a colony (one hive) produces between 60-90 lbs of honey. That's so ridiculously amazing. To give you an idea of how much that is, one gallon weighs 11lbs. A worker bee has to visit five million flowers to produce a single pint of honey and they will travel up to three miles from the hive to find the resources they need. When the season comes to an end in the fall, the queen stops producing eggs and the worker bees kick the drones out because they eat too much and evidently die. If you are ever stung by a honeybee, which is unlikely because they are very docile, you have never been stung by a male or drone because he doesn't have a stinger. Speaking of stinging, my husband is allergic but was de-sensitized as a child. I guess we'll find out if it worked or not :/
I need to start building my hive or purchasing the one I can put together. I can make an excellent quality one out of cypress wood, or just get a standard pine kit. I am leaning towards the kit since so many other things are taking up my time. I will need to pre-order my bees which come in a 3lb bag and one queen. The price of bees isn't necessarily cheap - but that local honey is worth so much more. If you purchase honey within 300 miles you are less likely to have allergies to the pollen around you.
Honey bees produce more than just honey. You can also put their beeswax, propolis and royal jelly to good use. Beeswax alone is used in cosmetics and for medicinal purposes. It has even been allowed for those in European countries to pay their taxes with it. Royal jelly is fed to the queen, it is honey mixed with a chemical found in the nurse bees head. In health food stores it demands top pricing and it is traditionally used as a fertility treatment. Propolis, or bee glue is super sticky. The bees gather this from trees and plants. They use this to fill gaps in the hive and strengthen the honey comb. Propolis has antimicrobial qualities that can guard against fungus and bacteria. The Chinese have used propolis in their medicine for thousands of years.
Honey bees are a critical part of my self-reliant goals. They pollinate the gardens which result in bigger more bountiful fruits and vegetables as well as pollinate the fruit trees I planted this fall. They are a small little bug that we rely on heavily for our food chain to make a complete circle but rarely take time to reflect how important they really are.