I’ve always been interested in Beekeeping. It goes back a few years to when we started making homemade wine. Our wine was good but I wanted to make mead. I started talking to the guys at the SC State Fair because their location was near the homemade wine section. We knew honey was expensive and we certainly didn’t want to waste it on a messed up batch of mead. We also knew bees were stressed and colonies were disappearing. Melanie was a bit concerned because we didn’t know what it would take to get started. So, we put it off for a couple of years and I never got really serious about researching it. Then, one day at a dinner party, we were talking to the hosts and I mentioned something about it and he said “We have bees”. I had no idea. So, we began to talk about it and he generously agreed to help us. That is one thing I have found about Beekeepers, they love to help other people, not just with Beekeeping, but in life in general. So, we decided to talk to him seriously about it. It was something I had always wanted to do and here was someone who already had made some investments in the equipment and had generously decided to help us.
Beginning Beekeeping – Getting Started
Our friend came over to our house and looked around some so we could decide where we were going to place the bees. The guys at the fair told me it doesn’t take much room. They told me they knew a guy who had a hive in a subdivision on his front porch. He would roll it to one side of the porch and sweep off the porch and then roll it back. It was very interesting to me. But, we are blessed to have a little land so, we cleared a little patch in the woods. Our friend said it would get sun during the winter months and shade during the summer and the girls (all the bees are girls except drones) would be much happier that way. So, it seemed good to me. We ordered the supplies we needed from the Brushy Mountain Bee Farm and had the pieces delivered to our house. You can order hives that are already assembled and even get “nucs” that already have bees in them, but we decided to build our own. When the pieces arrived we put them together. Then, we painted the outside of the hives to protect them and waited until it was time to go pick up the bees. The bees come in a box about the size of a shoebox with 10,000 bees and a queen. We picked up 5 boxes for us and 4 boxes for our friend so you can imagine, we had 90,000 bees or so in the back of his Yukon. It was a bit unnerving but it was also fun. When we got home, we had set up the hives in the area we had cleared out. We sprayed them with watered down corn syrup and dumped the bees in the hive. Literally. They were a sticky gooey mess but as my friend said, they would cooperate and clean each other off. The queen came in a separate little carrier. We drilled a hole in the sugar cube with a toothpick so the bees could eat their way in and she could eat her way out. My friend said, by the time she gets out in 2 or 3 days, the other bees will have figured out that they don’t have a queen and she will do just fine. Sure enough, when we checked them 3 or 4 days later, the queens were out and laying eggs. It was amazing to see.
Beginning Beekeeping – Now What
While Beekeeping is something that can be done from scratch, with no experience, like anything else, you need to find a mentor to help you along. If you have never done it and don’t have a friend doing it, read all you can on the internet and do your research, and then join a Beekeeping club. They will help you and you can also pool resources. You don’t need a centrifuge to spin out honey frames if someone down the road or across town already has one. You can pitch in together and share the costs of those things. My friend had bee suits but the ones he had were just a bit too small for me so I did end up investing in a good bee suit because, frankly, I don’t like getting stung. You will get stung but it’s not any fun when you do, so, no need to tempt fate. I suit up when I go in the hive. I’ve seen videos of guys “tending hives naked” but I never will do that, I can promise you. I counted 24 stings on my gloves the last time I went into the hives to check on them.
The cool thing is, if you decide to do it, you will be helping the environment and learning a lot about God and nature. Bees are amazing creatures and I love sitting and watching them come and go. My best advice though is, get a mentor. Find someone who has done or is doing what you want to do and been successful at it, and follow their lead. It’s sound advice for life. It has been sound advice in my Beachbody Business and it will be something I continue to do. Read, listen, learn and then teach others and above all….HAVE FUN!!! More on the bees later. We are supposed to spin out some honey this week so, stay tuned!!