As I mentioned a few posts ago, one of the things we are going to do in the spring is try our hands at beekeeping. I took a brief informational class at our local library last year to see if it was something I thought we could do and I was hooked. I know some people are grossed out by flying insects, or deathly afraid of them, as is the case with one of my good friends, but I am neither of those things. I'm actually afraid of losing them and would like there to be more of them. I'm sure you've heard about the disaster going on with the bees worldwide; you can read more about it here, here and here.
When I attended the class at the library, I was told the best way to learn about beekeeping was not only reading books and watching videos, but to find a mentor and other beekeepers to hang out with. So I started sporadically attending the Walworth County Beekeeping club. At that club I asked around about how to get started, they told me where to go and who to order my bees from, as well as how many to get.
Order bees? I guess I never thought I would be ordering them, though I'm not sure where I thought I would be getting them. Lassoing them in my yard? At the wild bee store? I was told it would be best to start out with two hives and to order two, 3 pound bags of bees. Each 3 pound bag is approximately 10,000 bees. Each bag also contains a queen. I ordered everything and checked out a few books at the library.
I'm still reading up and much to my relief, one of the well-known beekeepers in our area - actually the man who taught the informational class at the library - is teaching a two-day beekeeping class in a few weeks. We signed up and he gave us a very detailed list of all of the equipment to order. We are picking everything up next week. Here's what I ordered:
Hive Tool (for opening the hives. I'll talk more about propolis later)
Adorable Beekeeper Outfit (so, this is a stretch, but I did order the full body suit. I'm sure I will only use it once or twice, but I would rather be prepared, right?)
Frames, Hive Boxes (or brood chambers), Supers (see diagram below)
Outer Covers, Inner Covers and Bottom Boards
I'm excited and a little bit scared, there is so much information to learn and any time I am responsible for a living thing, even if it's just a flower, I'm worried about killing it. I'm sure it's why my career as an EMT never came to fruition.
Maybe you can follow along with us and decide to keep your own bees - many municipalities are passing ordinances allowing people in urban areas to have their own beehives in their backyards, regardless of size. I hope we can inspire you, even if it's only planting a few bee-friendly flowers in your yard.