There. I said it. I fully admit to being a wanna-bee. How can you not be after hearing statements like these?
"Becoming a beekeeper is the single most important thing you can do for the environment." -Cindy Bee, Master Beekeeper and yes, her real name is Bee
"If you look at a plate of food, one-third of everything on that plate has been touched by honey bees."
-Jennifer Barry, Apicultural Research Coordinator and Lab Manager at the University of Georgia
Well, on Saturday, I, and over a hundred of my fellow wanna-bees, had the pleasure of attending the Beekeeping Short Course hosted by the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association. This class was fascinating and really took some of the fear of beekeeping out of me. It's not so much the bees that had me paralyzed with fear. Oh no. I have a strong feeling that once I don the incredibly chic bee protective suit, I will find my rhythm in handling the bees. Plus, I am so comfortable working side by side with bees in the garden, they barely register with me these days. So what is it, you ask? It's the bee equipment that had me utterly dumbfounded.
I see a langstroth hive and think, "boxes." There are big boxes and slightly smaller boxes and then even smaller boxes. But, beekeepers call these things brood chambers and hive bodies and supers. What are they talking about? Upon hearing all those words, my normal reaction was to go eat some chocolate. Yes, I am a stress eater. How could you tell? And, what in the world is the smoker for? There are only two types of smoking I am familiar with; one that's unhealthy and another that makes me hungry (think applewood-smoked bacon or smoked BBQ beef brisket or...), neither one is recommended if I want to maintain any level of fitness.
Anyway, the Beekeeping Short Course took all the confusion out of how to build a hive, light a smoker, install bees (I know. Install? Yes. Install. Don't I sound so experienced?!), feed them, diagnose problems in the hive and what to do about them and where to buy quality bees. It's not like a birdhouse. You can't just put it out there and hope you get a homeless bee to move in. Although, that might be the case with an opening in the side of your home. I digress...
At any rate without getting too technical, let me just say that if you ever thought that having your own honey would be amazing, or you're crafty and you like to make lip balm, lotion bars and candles or you simply like to live life on the edge, then perhaps you're a wanna-bee just like me. (Have I mentioned that my motto for the year is, "If it's scary, new or would otherwise make me uncomfortable, I am going to go for it?" Oy!)
In that case, there are a number of excellent resources out there. You can take the Georgia Beekeeping Short Course. Or, you can check out The Blue Heron Nature Preserve where they have an area dedicated to beekeeping. Or, you can check out Linda Tillman's very informative blog. I sat at Linda's table during lunch and really admire some of her less-invasive, natural beekeeping practices. Finally, for those of you who are reading that live in Dunwoody, be sure to check out the bees at Dunwoody Nature Center and Cindy Hodges, a Dunwoody resident who maintains the hives.
I have to say, before I attended the Beekeepers Short Course, I thought that this question of whether or not to keep bees could go either way. After attending, I am totally geeked out, beegeeked out ,that is! I know I still have so much to learn. But, the fear is gone now because I know there are resources out there to help me should I stumble. I won't be on my own. And, I will be in excellent company. Oh, and if you have little ones who become as beegeeked out as you are like mine did, then check out the Junior Beekeeping Course. Sadie and Harry will be participating in it!
Come on, as the beegeek.com people say, "Give bees a chance!" Peace out, y'all!