Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
I am a bit ashamed to admit that at first I didn't like bees. They buzzed around me and often I would step on them and get stung. I didn't understand bees or the important role they played in my day to day life.
Much later I became more curious about bees and wanted to learn more so I joined a local beekeeping club in my area and began attending meetings every month. I also took a short course on beekeeping offered by the very same club, attended a few conferences and found a mentor. My mentor told me that all that was left was to order a package of bees and let the real fun begin.
I was nervous because it was one thing to admire them from afar but quite another to have thousands of bees mere yards from my home. What if they snuck in during the night and stung me? What if they hated me and flew away? What if I killed them all? So many ifs….
I ordered my first package of bees that January and in April I was standing under a big oak tree as the club’s bees were offloaded from the president’s pickup truck. They called my name to gather my package…this was real, this was happening. I was putting literally thousands of bees into my car— had I thought this through all the way? Are these the actions of a sane individual?
On the drive home I drove slowly with the package of buzzing bees as my copilot, watching them closely after every curve or turn.
Once home I sprayed the bees with sugar water and, under the watchful eye of my mentor, began introducing them to their new hive, hands shaking. You basically pour them into your readied hive and they spill out by the thousands into their new home. They covered every inch of the hive and began investigating the home I had prepared for them. My mentor walked down the hill to retrieve a tool I had absentmindedly forgotten, leaving me alone with my new bees. As they buzzed all around me I felt an overwhelming sense of something— calmness.
It was hard to keep me out of that hive that first year and I am sure the bees mumbled under their breath when they saw me coming. My visits are now less frequent inside the hive but I take great pleasure just sitting by the hives watching the girls come and go heavy with nectar and pollen. It’s amazing the see the kaleidoscope of colors they bring back from the fields and there is nothing like your first taste of warm honey from the hive.
Three years and four hives later, I am just as excited about beekeeping as that first day.