I’m gonna bee…

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.