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Beekeeping Class

If you’ve been reading our blog very long then you know that when we want to tackle a new project the first thing we do is hit the books. In anticipation of becoming newbie beekeepers next Spring we’ve been reading Beekeeping for Dummies and The Barefoot Beekeeper.

We asked the County Extension Office about local or regional Bee Clubs hoping that we could check them out as a resource and possibly join. Unfortunately the closest one is more than 40 miles away. When a local beekeeper — someone who has been keeping bees for about 20 years — offered a 2-day class recently we decided that we should definitely attend.

Although our teacher currently keeps bees for commercial purposes he was very good about teaching us how to manage hives for personal uses too. One of the most important things we got out of the class was the opportunity to meet other folks who plan to become beekeepers like us. And… teacher said that now that we’ve been to class we could call him after we get up and running with our bees in the Spring. It’s always nice to have an “expert” to call  when you have questions!

Why keep bees?

Most people will probably think we want to keep bees for the honey and while the honey will be a wonderful bonus it’s definitely not the motivating factor for this project.

The primary reason we want to have a couple of colonies of bees on the homestead is for the pollination they’ll provide for our crops. Our hopes are that the bees will increase the productivity of our garden, apple trees, blackberries, grapes… you name it!

These little guys are certainly hard workers. In fact just the other day we saw some on the flowers of the Chinese Cabbage that had bolted. Talk about dedication to the job! 

Won’t you get stung a lot?

I’m absolutely positive that I will get stung but probably not a lot ;)Honey bees are really quite gentle or so I’m told. Bees sting to protect their home or to retaliate when someone swats at them. If a bee starts flying near you, just stand still, and don’t swat at it! Most likely nothing will happen. If you don’t bother them… they won’t bother you.

Natural Beekeeping

As always, our goal is to keep the bees as naturally as possible. We plan to build top bar hives rather than use the “standard” Langstroth type hives. Top bar hives can be built with basic carpentry skills with recycled materials such as old pallets (as long as the wood’s not treated). More about top bar hives and natural beekeeping in future posts 😉

Here’s a picture of a happy honey bee that found the buckwheat we grew as a green manure crop in the garden last Spring.

bee-on-buckwheat 
(Click image for larger view.)

Any fellow beekeepers out there?

Chime in and let us know what you think, which breed of bees do you keep, recommend your favorite bee book, share your beekeeping successes and failures… we can’t wait to climb another rung on the self-sufficiency ladder.

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