HOW BEES CAN BENEFIT YOUR AQUAPONICS SYSTEM
Bees will benefit your aquaponics system in 2 major ways:
(1) they will increase the rate of cross pollination between your crops, resulting in a more abundant yield; and
(2), if they are honey bees, they will produce a harvestable crop of honey, (and bees wax, bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly too)!
From an aquaponics point of view, keeping bees in or near to your system offers a wonderful opportunity to increase the biodiversity of your system, and in doing so, to increase its robustness and productivity. Bees benefit from aquaponics too! Aquaponic greenhouses provide a warm, sheltered and pesticide-free environment for bees, with water for them to drink, and lots of flowers for them to forage from.
To take advantage of the bee’s pollinating prowess, you can do one of several things. You can:
- Leave your door open on a summers day and let the bees in take care of the rest!
- Install a specially designed nest for solitary bees inside your greenhouse. Solitary bees make their nests in hollow reeds and holes in wood, and as the name suggests, they don’t live in large colonies like the honey bee, but instead make individual nests and leave their young to fend for themselves. Solitary bees are excellent companions for your aquaponics system because they are prolific pollinators and are usually docile and tend not to sting. A nest for solitary bees, often called an insect hotel, could look much like this one
- Keep honey bees (Apis mellifera) in hives near to your aquaponics system! Honey bees have a major benefit over solitary bees: namely, the ability to produce a significant (tasty and healthy) harvest of honey: a well managed hive and good weather can yield 18-27kg of honey in one season, on top of providing an excellent pollination service. Keeping honey bees can be incredibly rewarding and good for your local environment too, but it does require a significant amount of time and it may also be an issue with your neighbours. If you are considering keeping honey bees, the following pages are designed to give you a preliminary idea of what is involved in keeping honey bees and how to do it. Items covered are: