All Things Bees in Georgia!
Apiaries, Bee Products, Bee Population, and More!
Fun Facts About Bees and All They Do For Us
The bee. To most, bees are pesky pests that are either bothersome or allergy-inducing. If one (or more) are in your yard, you don’t run right up and want to make friends. Instead, you avoid them or take out the giant can of spray to make sure they never, EVER bother you again. We often don’t stop to think about how those little yellow and black-wearing bumbles dramatically impact our lives.
Bees are a type of insect that is known as a pollinator. They travel from flower to plant and back again cross-pollinating plants, flowers, and crops in order to feast on nectar, which in turn provides them with energy. In order for plants to survive, they need fertilization, and the way that happens is through pollination from bees. Wind also can play a part in the pollination of plants, but this process from a bee is far more effective. Bees also carry pollen on their legs and take it back to their nest or hive.
One out of every 3 bites of food depends on a pollinator, and over 100 crops grown in the United States depend on them for their survival. Bees are the key to giving us a varied and nutritious diet, and boy, do they work hard. The economic value of the work done by the honey bee is over $303 billion annually across the world. Also, bees must visit approximately 2 million flowers to produce one pound of honey. According to Greenpeace, “Honey bees — wild and domestic — perform about 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. A single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day. Grains are primarily pollinated by the wind, but fruits, nuts, and vegetables are pollinated by bees. Seventy out of the top 100 human food crops — which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition — are pollinated by bees.”
Some crops, such as almonds, would not even exist if it were not for the bee. Other crops such as tomatoes and peppers are also dependent on the bee.
The importance of the bee to crops is so important, that in some cases, farmers rely on farmers of another industry - beekeeping. Hives from local beekeepers are often rented out to farmers to assist with the pollination of their crops.
Bees In Danger
Sadly, in today’s world, there are many circumstances that have led to the loss of scores of bees which has greatly affected crops around the world.
This is due to several reasons:
- Environmental Changes - Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23% of the global land surface, and up to $577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss.
- Changing Climate - Shifting weather patterns have confused bees on what time of year it is and what they should be doing.
- Increased land development depletes flower-rich habitats, and valuable land space for bee colonies.
- Heavy Use of Pesticides - People want green lawns, and beautiful flowers, as well as pest-free gardens. However, this all comes at the price of killing native bees.
What the Heck Is an Apiary?
Though the word apiary may have you thinking of the zoo, it actually is a name for a plot of land that contains beehives and is managed by a beekeeper. Derived from two Latin words, “Apis mellifera” is the Latin word for the honey bee. This first word is the genus “Apis” meaning bee, and the second word “mellifera” means honey bearing.
Apiaries come in many forms. They can range from small hobby farms to larger commercial businesses - all involved in the keeping of bees. There are beekeepers in every state to provide honey and other bee products to the general public.
The state of Georgia actually encourages beekeeping as either a commercial practice or an in-depth hobby. Georgia is one of the top 3 states in the nation that produce honeybees and queen bees for sale. All information in regard to the apiary program can be found on the Georgia Department of Agriculture website. The different kinds of licenses available, as well as the laws and regulations surrounding beekeeping, can be found there. There are also helpful ideas for a potential beekeeper enthusiast to explore before launching full steam into their own beekeeping endeavor.
Bees are not only beneficial to the world's food population but also to the other products that they have a hand in producing. When one thinks of bees, a common association is, of course, honey. One look at this morning's cereal box probably was a good reminder. A typical hive can produce up to 400 pounds of honey per year.
- Honey is used not only for consumption as a sweetener or flavoring, but it also fights infection and is used to help treat burn victims. Honey is used commercially for food, skin creams, anti-aging lotions, and medical wound ointments. As bees collect nectar and pollen from the flowers and plants they visit, back at home they use them to make honey, and other bee byproducts.
- "Bee Bread" is fermented pollen mixed with honey and bee saliva, and is now considered a pollen superfood.
- Royal Jelly - A milk-like substance that essentially is bee saliva. It offers anti-aging benefits as well as boosts the immune system, and aids in the treatment of inflammation.
- Bee Venom - Used in "bee sting therapy" to treat arthritis, joint swelling, and pain. It is also used in skin care for reducing wrinkles and acne.
- Propolis (bee glue) - is a mixture of pollen and beeswax. It is rich in flavonoids (antioxidants) and is believed to be beneficial as an antibacterial agent, an antioxidant, and has wound healing qualities.
- Pollen - is also said to be helpful in boosting liver function, lowering cholesterol, and reducing inflammation.
Tax Benefits for Beekeepers
While there does not appear to be any sort of a tax break for backyard beekeeping enthusiasts, Georgia law does state that,
"Tangible real property, but no more than 2,000 acres of any single property owner, which is devoted to bona fide agricultural purposes shall be assessed for ad valorem taxation purposes at 75 percent of the value which other tangible real property is assessed"
You can read more about the agricultural property qualification here!
Additionally, those who produced over $5,000 of sales in agricultural products during the year would be able to apply for the Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption (GATE) Certificate.
Hankering for honey, other bee products, or looking for your own hive? Here is a list of a few of our local apiaries and honey farms in the greater Atlanta area. Before purchasing the plastic bear of honey in the grocery store, consider shopping at one of these local resources for a high-quality bee product. Some apiaries or honey farms also offer tours, honey tasting, and other bee-centered products. There is even a bee boot camp!
This collection of apiaries is located all around the greater Atlanta area. “With the intent of making the neighborhood a better place through urban agriculture, Little Bee Project began in 2011 with the placement of two hobby beehives in Steve’s East Atlanta backyard. The passion for those two hives has grown and is now shared across more than 100 colonies. Located throughout Metro-Atlanta, the individual colonies are managed naturally with the accepted responsibility to keep them healthy and strong". Honey collected from each of these apiaries is for sale on the Little Bee Project website, with its own distinctive labeling and flavor.
742 Lords Mill Road, Commerce, GA 30529
Offers a "Beekeeping Bootcamp"
1431 Frontier Drive
Sugar Hill, GA 30518
1060 Hillcrest Dr, Watkinsville, GA 30677
1320 Monroe Drive, Atlanta, GA 30306
592 Ridge Lake Ln NW, Marietta, GA 30064
151 John Walraven Rd, Dallas, GA 30132
Tiny Wings Farm offers an opportunity to host your own hive without all the work. Have bees enjoy your flora and fauna and allow Tiny Wings to take care of the rest. "Wondering what it's like to keep bees but don't have the expertise, equipment, or time? Host a honey bee hive for us instead".
180 Barrington Grange Dr, Sharpsburg, GA 30277
207 Sidney Dr, Griffin, GA 30223
Featuring Beekeeping Tours and Honey Tasting