Showing posts with label honeybees 2014. Show all posts
Showing posts with label honeybees 2014. Show all posts

Honey Bee School 101


So Bee Keepers are passionate people. There is a whole movement out there to save the honey bees and this week I have jumped on the bandwagon. Each night we've been watching another movie or youtube video and trying to educate ourselves as quickly as possible. And it's true. All that is happening to our honey bees is a really big deal. During one movie I turned to Rory told him that I'm really proud to be keeping our own bees.

Today I wanted to pass along a few of the movies and videos and sites that I have discovered. Two movies were recommended right in the comments of this blog. Brad (are you high school Brad?) recommended a great video called Portrait of an Urban Bee Keeper. It's 20 minutes long and really well done. Enjoyable to watch and worth your time. Also really cool to think of keeping bees in the city!

Then I found beverlybees.com and the resource page on that site is fantastic. This TED Talk she has on her site is an incredible overview of what is happening to our world's bees and why we should care.


We watched every other video on the Beverly Bees Resource page. Really fascinating stuff there about verroa mites and foul brood and colony collapse.

Rory's brother Kyle told us about the movie More Than Honey and we ordered that on Netflix. I enjoyed this movie a lot and was amazed at the up close footage they had of the bees doing their thing, even the birth of a queen. Really fascinating. The transportation of bees to big monocrop operations is pretty terrifying. The whole time we watched I kept shaking my head, "this is all against God's created order. God never designed the world to work this way..." It's sobering to watch.

And my greatest resource is our teacher, Adam. He came out again this week and was so excited to see our bees thriving. We even added a box so that one hive can spread out and make more comb! That's a great sign of a healthy hive and I was so excited.

And finally, there is Oma Zina. Oma Zina is my sister-in-law Lisa's mom who came out for her 77th birthday. She loves it out here and really loves our bees. She and her husband used to keep bees and she has a lot of great lessons to pass on about swarming, drones and even has her son sending her late husband's bee suit so she can get in on the action. What a joy!

becca the bee keeper


There has been a very exciting development around here. Our bee keeper who housed some of his bees on our land last year had too many paying clients and not enough bees. So he didn't have bees to put on our property. But we really want bees. And we want honey. And we want honeycomb for candles and soap. And even last year I had told Rory I wanted to learn how to care for our own bees. I'm sincerely interested.

And when we met Andrew Peterson after a concert he told us he had bees and that we "really had to do it on our own." And the way he said it made me think, we had really better do it on our own.


So we talked to Adam, our bee keeper over burgers at our favorite burger place and he actually offered to take this year to teach us and get us up and running with our own bees. He is the nicest guy, seemingly excited to pass on what he knows and I have vowed in my heart to be his number one student. I am going to try so hard.

And that's the fun thing. This is my thing. The bees are my deal on this farm. Rory seems to have a enough going with the garden, the orchard, the maple syrup, the animals and his actual job that he wasn't as game to take on a whole new trade.

But I was. Because at age 33, the thought of picking up an entire new trade is exhilarating to me. Just as I found absolute peace with being a stay-at-home mom, I have now added another title: bee keeper. And that feels good. Like adding a new title at a job you already enjoy.


So I spent the weekend in California reading a book on organic bee keeping cover to cover. And what I learned is that I have a whole lot to learn. And how glad I am to have Adam, ready to mentor me all season, passing along everything he has learned throughout his years of bee keeping.


Bees don't make me nervous. They never have. Which is good, because they can sense a persons anxiety, and may feel threatened by that anxiety and sting that anxious person. The goal is to be completely calm, relaxed, using smoke just enough...not too much, not too little.

I had on a jacket with hood and long gloves and didn't get stung. And today was a big day. They were moved from their nuc box into their new boxes. Rory will probably do a step-by-step (or maybe I will...) over on the grovestead sometime. It was really amazing. Loud and fascinating.


Perhaps the most story-worthy of the whole experience was that just before Adam showed up I was pushing Elsie in the swing. And I was thinking about how calm and peaceful I needed to be before I went near the bees. Ivar was walking towards our peonies and I saw an s,n,a,k,e right in front of him. I can hardly even type the letters without getting the chills. In college I had to put post it notes in my biology books whenever there was a picture of a, you know.

I have a life goal not to pass my fear of those things onto my children. So I tried to act really casual, pointed it out to Ivar like it was super fun. Got Elsie out of her chair and told Ivar we could go watch a show. I got in the house with a screaming Elsie who was not done swinging (she never is) and felt adrenaline pulsing through my body. I was completely pitted out and had the shivers every time I thought of the thing.

And then I had to go charm some bees.

Thankfully our neighbor girls came over and assured me that they had never seen an animal of that kind in this area before. So I decided to claim that as truth. That this little guy was an abnormality and just as soon as he meets my husband, he will meet the end of the shovel. For all of our sakes, I hope we never see him again.

And in the meantime, you'll find me standing in a swarm of honey bees.

To each his own.