In the spirit of growing more food this year, I am adding a new ecosystem to our little homestead. Honey bees. And although I am nervous, I also keep getting more excited about this new adventure.
I just started my county’s beginner beekeeping course and I am thrilled. I think this class hit me just at the right time in my life for it to be super fascinating. Having had chickens for a few years now, I think I have a heightened appreciation for the antics of living creatures.
The first class on anatomy and hive parts I found captivating. It was taught primarily by two instructors. Each amusing and informative in their own ways. I am so hopeful that each of the many instructors over this seven week class are half as engaging.
There are so many reasons I’m excited about honey bees. I am hopeful it will lead to improved pollination. I am not aware of having significant pollination issues but I know the my crops have not produced as much as they could. So honey bees in the garden can only help.
With the honey, I am intrigued/interested in reducing our use of white cane sugar. For the last year or so I’ve been working to reduce my personal consumption of added sugar. On this front, I’ve only had limited success. Reducing sugar in my diet has been harder than I expected. (For example, my delightful morning coffee became joyless for a while.) Encouraging my family in this direction, has been even harder. At this point, my goal is to replace some of our white cane sugar with honey from our bees. If I can do that, we may be a bit healthier.
Beeswax is awfully handy for making some of my favorite things. I’ve used it in making lip balm and in soaps. I’m not really sure how much of beeswax I’ll get but I’m hopeful I will eventually get some. And will be able to use it in my crafts.
Although I am super excited, I do have some not insignificant hurdles to overcome. For example, I have a heavy lift in bringing my boys along on the honey bee train. They were much more supportive of getting chickens. They worked a ton building our coop and chicken run. And although that was a lot of work, the ladies bring them joy and my boys love the eggs. However, chickens are somewhat cuddly. And we know other families with chickens. The boys could get their head around what chicken keeping might look like. With honey bees no such luck. And neither boy is crazy about honey. Each man/child has a separate concern. My younger son insists he will get stung if he ever goes in the backyard again. Although I have explained that as long as you do not mess with the bees or play in their path back to the hive, they will not bother with you. I’ve explained that with honey bees when the worker bees sting someone, they die. And therefore only sting under duress. Doesn’t matter to him. And to be clear, he rarely uses the backyard. My elder son is worried about what comes next. Goats? He doesn’t want to be that family…He just wants to be normal – as he sees it. I think all I am really saying is that I have two teenagers and for home harmony I need to find a way to bring them along. Right now I have committed to making a family presentation on the effort.
But perhaps a more pressing concern is…What color hive would look best in the garden?