Gabriela Bratkovics of White Plains knows all about bees. For the past three years, she has turned her backyard into a swarming oasis of sweetness. “It’s fascinating to observe bees and the way they interact with each other,” she says. Here, Gabriela Bratkovics talks about beekeeping, what’s she learned about bees, and how she got started in her most favorite hobby of all time.
“Many people aren’t aware there are different types of bees,” Gabriela Bratkovics says. She said she decided on honeybees since she knew the honeybee population had been declining and honeybees are very gentle to start with. “Did you know there are over 20,000 types of bees?” she asks. When I found a great book on honeybees, I just decided to go for it.
Gabriela Bratkovics of White Plains says each tiny bee can make only about 1/10 of a teaspoon of honey over its lifetime. “However, a full hive can net about 40 pounds each season, she adds. She’s quick to add that honey isn’t the only benefit of beekeeping. There’s also beeswax and royal jelly, she says. “But it isn’t all about what I can get from the bees,” she explains. “Honeybees are incredibly interesting creatures and tending them is actually very relaxing to me.” Gabriela Bratkovics says she has a mutually rewarding relationship with her bees. “I feel like I’m doing my part to save the bees,” she adds, “and they do their part to pollinate the area.”
Gabriela Bratkovics says if you’re considering keeping bees, spring is the best time to begin. She recommends checking your city or county zoning codes to make sure there are no problems ahead of time. “Your neighbors might want to know as well since I got some good advice from a neighbor who had raised bees for years,” she adds. “plus, the bees help pollinate nearby gardens, which helps a lot.” She says it’s helpful to join a beekeeping club in your area if you can find one. You can also find a lot of helpful information online.
Beekeeping can be difficult at times since the harvesting occurs during the hot summer months. You’re usually in the direct sun, Gabriela Bratkovics says, and the bee suit and veil needed when harvesting is very hot. You’ll need to be able to lift about 70 pounds once the frames are full, she says. Harvesting the combs will get you beeswax, but not all beekeepers do this, she explains. “Some like to leave the combs for the bees to keep using.”
Gabriela Bratkovics of White Plains says a smoker for calming the bees is an essential tool you’ll want to get. You’ll also need a fenced yard she says, as well as a water source. There are a lot of small details, Gabriela Bratkovics of White Plains says. “A great book I’d recommend for learning all about it is The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden, by Kim Flottum. It has everything you need to get started,” she adds.