Monday, April 27, 2009

A New Adventure With Bees

I finally did it. After years of wanting to keep bees, I bought a bee suit and took a basic beekeeping class. I figured that if I hated the class or got too squeamish, my curiosity would be satisfied and that would be the end of that. However, I was totally fascinated! Bees are unlike anything else I've encountered because of their social structure and habits. So on the ride home, rather than convincing myself I couldn't really do this, I began to solidify my plans for getting started. 

You may be wondering why anyone would want to do such a thing (unless they were a commercial farmer or a bit off their rocker)? Well, I'm not sure I can even put it into words. I can spout off some of the benefits of keeping bees, such as honey and wax production or pollination of plants, but it doesn't really explain why I personally would feel the need to be involved in this venture, except to say I love the whole farm stuff. I find it relaxing despite the work. Actually, the work is a good kind of labor that makes you feel like you've really accomplished something at the end of the day. I admit, the idea of my own honey is a strong motivator, but it honestly it isn't the only reason I've been drawn to keep bees.

Anyway, I got some friends, drove 2 1/2 hours to a class (one way!) and met up with a bunch of other newbies to the world of bees. The turn out was huge with 50 attendees; the biggest new group ever for the Beekeepers Association of Southern California. I would have loved to interview each one of them to find out the reason for their interest in bees, but there was so much to learn and so little time! Besides learning all the basics from some long time Apiarists, but we got to go to the hives and check out what was going on with the bees! 

Okay, I confess I was nervous. I had no idea how I would react if I got stung. Would I swell up, have an anaphylactic reaction, or be in so much pain I couldn't finish the class? As my interest in beekeeping has grown, my fear that an allergic reaction would stop me from doing this has also grown. Happily for me and the bees, they were in a good mood and I left without any unpleasantries. I got to meet some queens as well as her subjects, see the honey, view the brood, observe some hatching from their comb, and hear the finer points of bee lore. All in all, it was a lovely day that left me anxious to get my own hive started. 

Waiting to meet the queen bee!

I hate to bore you with too many posts regarding bees, so I'll try to keep it to an occasional update and hopefully it will be interesting enough that I won't run you off! But with all this excitement, I just have to spread the enthusiasm around a bit. Who knows? Maybe some of you just might join me!


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