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Upon Installing a Hive, or Two, of Bees

It’s been a minute since I’ve written anything.  And by a minute, I mean about 3 and 1/2 months.  What can I say? Punctuality and consistency aren’t my strong points.  A lot has happened in the intervening time.  Let’s recap:

  • Daniel earned his Associate’s degree (YAY!)
  • Molly has spent the 2nd semester of kindergarten in a different teacher’s class than the first (Again, I say yay.)
  • Daniel finished his first semester at UAB (complete with night classes)
  • I started a new job after going through an intense and several-month-long recruiting process
  • Amelia turned 4 with a big ol’ Frozen party (yes, complete with snowman building)
  • We doubled the size of my vegetable garden and planted half of it in the winter and half of it this spring
  • I attended my 20th high school reunion (so weird since I’m only 29.)
  • And then I took an eight week beginning beekeeping class – at night

If you’re keeping score, that means for a couple of months, Daniel was gone on Monday and Wednesday nights, and I was gone on Thursday nights.  We almost forgot what each other looked like.  It was busy around here.  Needless to say, my housekeeping suffered.

The impetus for writing today is that we actually installed our beehives this afternoon.  It feels like a culmination of a LOT of prep, research, learning, stressing, and planning.  I realize that you’re probably thinking up a couple of questions right now, so I’m gonna go ahead and try to address a couple of those.  Here goes…

  1. Why the hell are you keeping bees?
    Okay, maybe you didn’t ask it quite like that, but truthfully, a couple of people have.  I was asked recently, and I had to really think back to how I ended up here.  It all started last fall when I was only able to grow one pumpkin.  I learned all about pollination and male/female flowers, etc.  Apparently, you have about a day for a female pumpkin flower to get pollinated in order to get a pumpkin.  I realized after learning this, that I simply hadn’t seen a lot of bees buzzing around my garden.  And that’s what got me started thinking about bees.
  2. You totally didn’t answer my question.  WHY BEES?
    **sigh** Okay, I don’t really have a good answer.  You know now how I started thinking about it.  Then I guess I mentioned it a couple of times on Facebook?  And a couple of people said positive-ish things?  And then I said something to Daniel, and he gave a noncommittal shrug.  (I took that as a yes.)  Then I started chatting with a couple of people who encouraged me.  One in particular was my friend Piper.  We grew up together, and now she lives in Virginia.  She told me to find a local beekeeper association and find a beginner’s class.  So I did. (She’s getting her bees tomorrow. YAY!) So I guess the answer is: nobody told me I couldn’t do it.
  3. What are you trying to accomplish? And/or what do you hope to get out of it?
    Well, honey for one.  One good, productive hive can produce 50 to 100 pounds of honey in a year.  Not necessarily the first year though, so y’all chill.  I also hope that they pollinate my garden, like, a lot.  It’s a hobby, so I hope I get enjoyment.  I want my girls to learn about growing and caring for something.  It’s something we can do as a family.  It sort of feels like putting our roots deeper in this home.
  4. What do your neighbors think?
    Uh, well, so far no complaints.  Everyone has smiled an nodded politely when I’ve told them…kinda like you nod at the crazy lady at the store who talks to you unsolicited and from whom you cannot get away (and yes, that is also sometimes me).  I figure they’ll be less put off when the girls set up a honey stand instead of a lemonade stand in a couple of months.

    All set up and ready to go!

    All set up and ready to go!

    The girls checking out their new surroundings.

    The girls checking out their new surroundings.

  5. Gotten stung yet?
    Nope, but I’m no fool.  Day 1: 0 incidents.
  6. Can’t you just get honey from the store?  And find something easier/less dangerous/less complicated to do as a hobby?
    Well, yeah.  But where’s the fun in that?
  7. What do you actually have to DO when you keep bees? Do you really have a bee suit? How much does it cost to get started?
    If you really want the answers to those questions, come hang out one afternoon and we’ll chat.  Or I’ll take you with me to an association meeting one month.

I hope that answers a few of your questions.  I’m sure I’ll be sharing more info in upcoming posts.  I really want to tell y’all about Mr. George.  He was our class teacher.  He’s where I got one of my hive boxes (I built the other one!).  He’s also my mentor and from whom I bought my bees.  The girls think he’s a celebrity.

I’ve already found that bees have brought me closer to a bunch of people, unexpected people at that.  (What’s up Piper? Susan?)  I’ve met new people and made new friends, some of whom are teaching me other new things.  (Hey Janina, how are the lambs?)  And y’all know how much I love me some people.  So, maybe that’s why I’m really doing this.  Yeah, yeah I like that.  I’d like to amend my answer to #1 above.  I’m keeping bees, because I like people.  That’s usually what motivates me, so why stray now?

6 comments

  1. I’m happy you didn’t stray from liking people. I’m happy you have reconnected with Piper and Susan. (Hi, Piper and Susan.) I look forward to meeting Janina. I enjoyed meeting George. I know I like honey. But, one question. What did you do with the girl that grew up in this house? I love you.

  2. Great Post! The lambs are great and my bees are doing well despite their threatening to swarm the day before we went to the beach. You looks like a natural out there with your bees. Have fun!

  3. you are the cutest bee keeper.

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