A beekeeper!

beehives

Yes, it’s true: In a couple of months, there will be approximately 50,000 bees in a hive somewhere on my property.

I’ve been wanting to get into beekeeping ever since we moved into this house almost 4 years ago. I recently took an introductory beekeeping class with natural beekeeping expert Chris Harp and I am so glad that I did. There’s a lot to learn: it was pretty overwhelming, but also incredibly informative. Here are some photos from the class…

I am pretty sure it’s going to be a while before I am truly comfortable with all that beekeeping entails, but I feel really strongly about getting involved in this endeavor. Honeybees play a vital role in pollinating fruits and vegetables- we owe over 30% of our food supply to bees- but bees the world over have been dying off in recent years due to something called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). I want to do my part to help the bees, and being able to harvest my own honey will be a bonus. Honestly, though, I am not thinking much about the honey yet: it’s important to keep in mind that the honey is food for the bees, so it’s critical that honey only be harvested when it’s in plentiful supply. I certainly hope that my hive does well, but there’s just no guarantee.

In my class, I learned that bees are really amazing, but also really sensitive creatures, and that there are many possible reasons for CCD: these include viruses, mites, and pesticides. I am going to be keeping my bees using organic and biodynamic methods because that’s how my teacher Chris does things (and because that’s what feels right to me). While this does not absolutely ensure a successful hive, using natural beekeeping methods is something that helps bees be as strong and healthy as possible.

Coincidentally, Ashley English, author of three books I love including the recently reviewed Home Dairy, just came out with a new book on beekeeping. It’s called Homemade Living: Keeping Bees with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Tend Hives, Harvest Honey & More. I’m extremely happy to have this book (courtesy of the generous people at Lark Crafts) because it’s written in Ashley’s extremely approachable style. It make the whole beekeeping thing seems less daunting and very do-able. It has tons of great pictures, thorough descriptions of everything you need to get started, and incredible recipes for using fresh honey. If keeping bees is something you’d like to know more about, this book is a great place to start.

To learn more about bees and beekeeping, I also recommend:
The Buzz From She Wears Many Hats
Keep Bees Naturally From Mother Earth News
Backwards Beekeepers: Organic Beekeeping in Los Angeles

This post is linked to Simple Lives Thursday.

 

24 Comments

  1. 1

    Jason's BBQ Adventures — April 12, 2011 @ 3:54 pm

    Now that would be a blast! Very intrigued by this.

    • Winnie replied: — April 12th, 2011 @ 7:04 pm

      Me, too. Will be sure to share what I learn along the way.

  2. 2

    Maria — April 12, 2011 @ 3:54 pm

    How exciting!

    • Winnie replied: — April 12th, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

      I think so!

  3. 3

    sippitysup — April 12, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

    I love bees. I have a hive inside a wall at the back of my property. I just let them be and they never bother a soul. Sometimes the neighbors complain, but I don’t see what harm they are causing. Whenever they pressure me to call the exterminator, I always remind them what lovely citrus and avocados they enjoy from the trees in their yards. I believe my bees are responsible for that. Although they are not really “my” bees. I don’t harvest honey or anything… still I realize that a bee hive in the big city is odd, and I hope I am not making a mistake. If you think I am please email me. GREG

    • Winnie replied: — April 12th, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

      It’s not that odd Greg…there are more and more beekeepers in cities that I’ve read about. Do the bees drink from your pool? I’ve heard they do that. I don’t think you are making a mistake at all, though. Anyway, no need to call an exterminator if you do at some point need to have them moved…just call a beekeeper who will come get them and re-home them in a better location.

  4. 4

    Liz the Chef — April 12, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

    Wonderful. I grew up in PA Dutch country and our neighbors had bees. I can still remember him in his bee suit, a little frightening for me as a kid. Can’t wait to see you in yours!

    • Winnie replied: — April 12th, 2011 @ 7:08 pm

      Ha! I’m actually planning to order my equipment tonight. Don’t know about getting a suit…a hat/veil combo I will have for sure, though…

  5. 5

    Cookin' Canuck — April 12, 2011 @ 8:30 pm

    This is very cool, Winnie. I love that you are doing your part to bring bees back to their original numbers. I’m looking forward to reading your posts as your project progresses.

  6. 6

    Fatima — April 12, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

    That is so cool. Sorry to be silly, but I can’t help but think of the book/movie, “The Secret Life of Bees” and imagine you in all that intrigue and mystery ;)

  7. 7

    Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food — April 13, 2011 @ 8:10 am

    I’ve long been fascinated by beekeeping and was lucky enough to get some real world exposure to it through my farmer grandparents. They were neighbors to a family that has been keeping bees and selling wild tupelo honey for 100 years (as filmed in the movie Ulee’s Gold). So interested to see how it all worked. Good luck on your new venture, Winnie, and keep us posted!

  8. 8

    Stephanie R. — April 13, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

    hurray! i am so excited for you! i dream of the day i will be able to keep bees of my very own. my life is too full of spacial transitions to make it a viable option now, but give me a few years… ;)

    congratulations! can’t wait to read about your experiences!

  9. 9

    Oui, Chef — April 13, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

    How exciting, Winnie…I can’t wait to tag along on this adventure with you, good luck! – S

  10. 10

    SMITH BITES — April 14, 2011 @ 4:53 am

    i am so excited for you Winnie – i cannot wait to read about your adventures; we’d love to have bees as well someday so am living vicariously at the moment!

  11. 11

    Diana@Spain-In-Iowa — April 14, 2011 @ 7:24 am

    Winnie, how great! I’ve thought about bee-keeping but really have had no idea where to start. I’m looking forward to following along with you and learning! Thanks so much for linking up!!

  12. 12

    Amy @ Homestead Revival — April 14, 2011 @ 10:53 am

    I’m starting my own beekeeping adventure next week – 3# of Carnolians will be arriving on April 19th! I’m so excited! I’ve waited two years to get my bees. I need to get my wax in my frames and the hive out in the yard before they get here.

    I just read “Fruitless Fall” by Rowan Jacobson and it was an amazing book! I learned more about bees by reading his work than I did in all the others combined – although it was more about how bees live and are designed rather than a beginning beekeeping book, but every beekeeper should know this information! Enjoy your bees!

  13. 13

    Monet — April 14, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

    Oh what a fun new adventure! I’ve heard of a lot of fun projects…but this has to be one of the most exciting! I can’t wait to hear how it goes. Bring on the bees! Thank you for sharing with me…and for making me smile. Your words are a source of joy in my life, and in the lives of many others. I hope you have a happy Friday. The weekend is almost here, and I’m ready for it!

  14. 14

    thatshowiroll — April 15, 2011 @ 8:41 am

    That is pretty exciting! I’m curious to read more about your beekeeping adventures. You have a lovely blog and I shared the same interests as you. Though I don’t have a beautiful garden and property like yours, bc we live in a condo. But all your subjects are my passion. Thank you!

  15. 15

    Julia — April 16, 2011 @ 5:56 am

    I think that is amazing! Can’t wait to hear all about it.

  16. 16

    sarah, simply cooked — April 16, 2011 @ 8:25 am

    Intriguing. If I didn’t live in an apartment on the 36th floor, I might consider this! (Along with growing carrots and keeping hens.) :-)

  17. 17

    Peter — April 18, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

    Chris is great. As soon as I get my little orchard planted, I’m going to call him about setting up some hives.

  18. 18

    Simple Lives Thursday – April 21 | Sustainable Eats — April 21, 2011 @ 9:01 am

    [...] I’m gonna bee… by Healthy Green Kitchen Winnie explains how we owe 30% of our food supply to bees, unfortunately, [...]

  19. 19

    Megan — April 25, 2011 @ 10:18 am

    You are way braver then I. I’m deathly afraid of bees.

  20. 20

    Heather Davis — May 11, 2011 @ 7:48 am

    Well done you! I think it’s a great idea. My dad has been doing it for about a year now and a part from the odd sting has really enjoyed it. Hope you will keep us up-dated on your progess.

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