The Land of Milk and Honey: Part I
I became a backyard beekeeper because of my love for honey. I remained a backyard beekeeper because of my love for the bees. If you told me a year ago that beekeeping was in my future, I would have answered that you were crazy. Look at us now. There is something incredibly wonderful and addictive with these honeybees. They have a magnetism that can’t be explained.
Grayson and I are beginners in the world of honeybees. We got into beekeeping from an advertisement in our local paper. Our local beekeeping association offered a beginning class for beekeeping at our agricultural extension agency. They close the registration at thirty people. Grayson and I were the last ones to get in, we felt very lucky. We took the class… we LOVED it. They will be offering another class in the summer of 2010. Check their website at www.swfbees.com for their announcement.
The class gave us tons of information about bees. The first three weeks were mostly in a classroom. By the fourth week, we had learned enough in our classroom setting to go into the field with live bees. However, I think most of the class was apprehensive about actually going into a real hive. I was nervous. Grayson says he wasn’t, but I think he was too. It didn’t take long for us to be completely comfortable with bees buzzing all around us. This single experience opened up a whole new world for us. It was instant love… we both fell hard for these amazing creatures.
One of our class trips included a visit to Keith Councell’s bee farm at a monastery. Keith is our local bee association president. He comes from a long line of beekeepers in his family (4th generation). I call him the bee whisperer. His knowledge of bees and keeping them in Florida is mind-blowing. His phone rings all day long… non-stop.
The class was fun but it isn’t the only starting point to becoming a beekeeper. Though it was nice being in a group to help us gather the nerve to walk into a cloud of thousands of flying insects for the first time . In my opinion, it is most helpful for a beginning beekeeper to join their local bee club. There you will make great friends and learn what others are doing with their bees. Our local bee association has many members that don’t even have their own hives, they just enjoy being a part of the association. Volunteering to help a local beekeeper with their bees is an excellent way to learn with hands-on experience.
By the way, Haagen-Dazs is helping with the honey bee crisis. Their website is definitely worth visiting. Don’t skip the videos, they are hilarious.
Needless to say, Grayson and I love our bees. We are really looking forward to our honey harvest this year. (Okay, that’s an understatement). Our bees, our honey… what a concept. We will continue to learn how to best tend to our girls and keep them healthy, year after year. There will never come a point where we will feel that we know everything there is to know about bees. It will truly be a lifetime journey.
Come grow with us!