Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bee Beginnings

"The privilege of being a beekeeper is not to generate as much honey as possible. We keep bees so we can contribute to pollination. And actually the future of beekeeping is not in one beekeeper with 60,000 hives, rather it's 60,000 people with one hive, all of them approaching the art and the craft of being a keeper of bees as a holistic practice." - Simon Buxton, Vanishing of the Bees

I thought it might be wise, or at the very least, fun, to document our beekeeping beginnings. Maybe when we're old and gray (which would actually be now if I stopped dying my hair) it will be fun to see where we began in this journey. The statement above is what really did it for us, me in particular. Vanishing of the Bees is a great documentary, and after visiting a bee yard, it really raised an interest for us in keeping bees.

 It's tempting to say "our bees", but that just doesn't feel like an accurate description. They're wild creatures, and they happen to have a welcome home in our backyard. We want to care for them, learn from them, and are more than happy to gather a honey surplus in the summer, but I'm not sure that makes them "ours".

They are still wild, and believe me, they know what's up. They operate on their own, and at any time a hive can decide to swarm and abandon ship. Being a beekeeper is not like owning a pet. A pet is yours, it depends on you. Bees depend on each other. They literally blow my mind with how they operate.
 See those white areas of fresh wax comb? Those weren't there five days ago. There is HONEY in some of the comb after five days! Now, of course it's not capped honey (they cap the comb with wax after they evaporate the precise percentage of water from the honey by fanning their wings), but it is HONEY.

Our hive has been very calm with us so far. We have only opened it this one time, to check to see if we caught the queen when we caught the swarm, and see if she's laying eggs. 
 Can you spot the queen in the photo below? She is partially covered, but her body is darker than the worker bees.
It all began with a field trip to visit a beekeeper and learn about bees. The local newspaper recently did a story on him and the fact that he's teaching his children beekeeping. We are lucky to be able to learn from him. I hope that we can educate people on the vital role that bees have on the planet, and all of the fascinating things that bees do. I think it's cool that my kids will grow up telling people about bees. I want to contribute to the planet, instead of spending my life consuming it. One little hive at a time.

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