A couple weeks before the class, I started reading beekeeping books and checking out websites. I wandered around my back yard debating where I would situate a hive or two. And wondering if I was quite ready to take the honey-coated plunge.
The big day came. A good friend and I trundled one city over for our class. It was full. Overly full! People had driven hours to come so I guess we were pretty lucky to have driven 7 minutes.
I learned a lot.
Did you know that honeybees are not native to the United States? They literally came over with the pilgrims and subsequent immigrants.
That said, "of the 100 crop species that supply 90 percent of the world's food, bees pollinate more than 70 percent."
Our teacher, a man in his fifties, got his first beehive at age 9. Back then, he said, it was much easier to keep bees. You basically did nothing but harvest the honey. Now, he said that he and other beekeepers in our county (he is the President of the local beekeepers guild) regularly lost 50% of their hives every year - due to disease and pests.
Much of that problem is that hives are brought over from many other countries to pollinate American crops during peak season. For instance, I live in California and apparently March or thereabouts is the time to pollinate the almond trees in our Central Valley. Many of the diseases and pests have come with those bees brought in from other countries. As careful as the government often is to prevent invasive species, it boggles the mind that it will ship in beehives and, with them, new diseases and predators, from willy nilly.
During our examination of the hive for instance, he showed us a hive beetle and indicated that he would put out a trap for them. "These just came over in the last two or three years with the bees brought in from Australia". Great!
I learned some happier things. Like beehives can be cute!
Though it doesn't have to be this cute! (It's a vintage beehive on Etsy.)
After the class, my friend and I returned home - heady with honey tasting dreams of bees in our suburban backyards. I will likely wait until next spring (because you can really only start keeping bees in the spring), to jump, fully suited, into beekeeping. That gives me a year to read, take my local guild's beginners beekeeping class and learn everything I can about bees. Besides, this spring's dance card is already full with endeavors like planting in a greenhouse, expanding my garden, creating a water garden, and condoing my potatoes.
So I guess you'll have to wait until next spring to see a picture this cute again. ;-)
* I'm linking to Homestead Barn Hop and FarmGirl Friday for this post.
* Keep up with the other bees in the hive and join the Facebook page. It's full of combs and honey.