Australia to Texas: Beekeeping - Part I

| 6/19/2012 7:45:00 PM

I've always been curious about bees. And I especially enjoy honey. Combine those facts with our five acres in a rural area along with our desire to build up a high degree of self-sufficiency and keeping bees seems like a very good idea. Still, it does create a lot of questions:

1.  Will I like it?
2.  Could I be any good at it?
3.  Will it annoy our family/neighbors?
4.  Does it add value?

And of course, if I put it to the test of the book, Beautiful and Abundant, Creating the World We Want, I can safely say that:

1.  Is it beautiful?  Absolutely - bees are incredibly beautiful animals/insects, well organized and industrious
2.  Is it abundant?  Sure is.  You can create 150-200 pounds of honey per hive per year.
3.  Is it fair?  I believe so as long as one takes good care of the hives
4.  Is it contagious?  I hope so with respect to our family and friends in the area. They'll certainly get a chance to share in the bounty.

Given all the background, I found a local class here in Melbourne from an organization called Lifecycle Learning. They teach in an urban area in a community center and have their hives right in the neighborhood. I enrolled in this class well prior to our last trip to the United States, and it coincides with the end of winter and beginning of spring.

We spent a fair amount of time in the classroom, working with the basic elements of a hive, studying the behavior of bees and how to handle them plus the cycle of bees, the seasons, hives and other useful information. Still, I was most looking forward to the practical elements of the class — seeing the hives, seeing how the bees build the brood, process nectar and pollen into honey and do the other "busy bee" activities they do to maintain the hive. The following few slides show the first examination of a hive. Recognise that this is the end of winter here and the hive should be relatively quiet and inactive. It was even marginal as to whether one should open the hive and work with it since the temperature hasn't been too warm. Still, it was relatively warm and certainly, there's a lot of trees and plant in bloom so it looks like spring is starting.

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