Who ya gonna call?

So you think you want to be a bee

keeper…


 It’s that time of year again…the maples are budding and the bulbs are bursting through the soil.  As the spring cycle slowly starts, I think everyone begins to consider their place on the planet.  And as you grow up, you realize the end of your rope is ever-closer and you want to do something to improve yourself or improve your life or the lives of your family, and maybe even improve the environment in your area.  Beekeeping meets all those needs, and now more than ever, beekeeping is available to just about everyone.  Research is even showing the urban bees are doing better than their country cousins!  Who’da thunk it?  Considering the agricultural pesticide levels in the country, it’s no wonder.  But I digress…

You’re thinking about beekeeping.  Good for you!  First things first–get online, or to the library and learn some lingo.   Perhaps even more importantly, FIND A LOCAL CLUB!  Every state has a beekeeping organization.  I know.  I have contacted them all.  🙂  As I trolled through the websites, it became very clear that I am not the only person who thinks bees are important.  (Of course, I know this, but it was made more clear.)  It’s not just my opinion.  Bees are important, and have been important, on every continent and throughout every age.  While many of us consider beekeeping a hobby, it is most certainly not a hobby to the agriculture and food industries.  It is a crucial (from the word crux) requirement.  Without bees, we lose perhaps 2/3 of our food diversity.  Like celery?  A lot?  Okay, maybe lettuce and broccoli.  And that’s it.  Anything juicy requires a pollinator.  But I digress…

It’s totally okay to be afraid of beekeeping.  My first foray into beekeeping was when I convinced my newly-retired dad to be a beekeeper.  I watched from the cab of the truck, with the windows closed of course, while he put in his package bees all by himself.  I can’t believe I was such a total chicken.   It took about 5 years, but I finally decided someone was going to have to keep bees at my house.  Sort of like someone has to replace the toilet paper, clean the cat litter box and pick up the towels off the floor.  Of course that could only be me.  And I am sooooooo completely thankful that I did.  My life has been completely altered by beekeeping.  That sounds dramatic, and I am dramatic, but it really has.  Becoming a beekeeper is something that will help the environment, help your flower bed and vegetable garden, help your local food supply, your health, maybe your wallet, and your social life.  Beekeepers are so friendly, and helpful, and opinionated.  But, I digress…

 Order the catalogs, go to the club meetings, and see if you can go work bees with someone who has a good working knowledge.  It is scary at first, but here’s a good tip:  My first mentor never used a smoker.  She used 1:1 sugar water in a spray bottle.  She misted the bees lightly as she worked.  It was so calming for me, and they don’t mind cleaning themselves up.  The water forces them to land.  The sugar forces them to groom and meanwhile the beekeeper goes about her business.  There’s no danger of over-doing it.  Feel scared?  Spray away.  But, I digress…

It is the right season to get informed and connected.  All these state organizations have spring meetings and then usually fall meetings.  Some states even have summer meetings.  Most do not require you to be a member to attend.  Go and learn, and meet.  You’ll make connections to buy your supplies locally.  You’ll find folks in your area who can help you when you need it.  And you’ll gain some important experience along the way.  All beeks do things differently, and you’ll eventually have your own decisions to make.  But being a beekeeper is one of the most rewarding things you can do, on so many levels.   It certainly doesn’t help your bragging position either.