Over a year ago I read a book that discussed self-sufficiency on a small-scale: keep a couple of chickens, a rabbit or two, learn to knit, play an instrument for entertainment, etc. The woman took a hands-on approach and tried these things and wrote about her experiences. I was absolutely mesmerized by the beekeeping account. I felt for her, she made many mistakes even with a mentor beekeeper, she lost a queen and had a bear attack. That right there kept me from jumping into beekeeping, bears are sited around these parts often enough for it to be a legitimate concern.
My brother-in-law and his wife have some chickens. I thought about chickens, but I really don’t want hands-on animals. Chickens would be nice for the garden, keep bugs down, and be needy. We couldn’t travel or be gone very long without chickensitters. I don’t know how to sit a chicken, I can guess they need food and water of some sort but that’s about it.
My husband and his brothers grew up on a bird farm, they raised bobwhite quail and I think one other type of bird to sell. They all had to help feed and care for them. He and I have discussed some responsibility for Boo Bear when he is bigger. But I have family 800 miles away and like to visit at least once a year, so the critters have to be able to either care for themselves for 10-15 days or we have to kennel them. Our house cats get a sitter by means of looker-iners.
Enter the bees. We like honey, we cook with honey, our extended family likes honey. I don’t have to pet the bees, I don’t have to clean up their poop, they can be left for a week or two and most likely be fine if precautions have been taken to keep them well fed and safe. I put out a plea to friends on a social networking site and within 15 minutes a friend stepped up who has been keeping bees for years. I have a husband of another acquaintance who beekeeps as well and would sit down with me and talk about bees. While there is no rush, there is. Bees need to be ordered soon to be delivered next spring as they can sell out. I need to get a bee house prepared for them as well as some basic equipment. Luckily, I have one bee mentor lined up and the possibility of another.
Do you keep bees? What don’t I know?