Sunday, April 18, 2010

Anxious Beekeeping Newbie

While practicing awareness and observation skills for this MooseBoots journey, I noticed today that the trees in the backyard are budding.  In particular, the peach trees that have never really produced well for us have large buds that look to be ready to flower within the next few weeks.  These trees have produced peaches twice, both times as a result of me, read Deus Ex Machina, playing bee with a swab.  It would take a swab and touch each bud on the first tree, then touch each bud on the second tree, and finally touch each bud on the first tree again.  One year, we got a few peaches, but most had some kind of mold on the skin ... the peaches tasted great.  Last year, we looked to gearing up for an enormous crop, but the yellow jackets bored into the fruit and they rotted on the tree only days away from being ripe enough to pick.

To spare me the effort, and to support all of the other plants, we finally took the plunge to get started in beekeeping.  We have talked for many years about starting, but the large initial investment has always stopped us short.  If you are going to buy the hive and all of the equipment, it can really add up.  We have opted for a top-bar hive similar to this one.

We had the option of trying to build our own ... the plans are readily available online.  We thought better of it on our first hive, so we opted to order one from Gold Star Honeybees, a local outfit.  It has been sitting in the dining room for about a month now ... still not assembled and selaed in the boxes.  I need to get going on putting it together.

The bees are due to arrive the second week in May.  The timing looks good.  I have read the Barefoot Beekeeper.  I have also spent a bit of time on Youtube watching videos of beekeepers doing their thing.  I am not allergic to bees (although my mother thinks I might be) but am a bit nervous.  Of course, because this MooseBoots journey is not about doing things the fastest or easiest way and is more about learning a traditional way, I will not be purchasing any of the usual beekeeping gear.  We will see how this works out. 

I am really excited to learn to work with the bees and develop a relationship with them.  While I hope to harvest some honey, I really hope to better support our little ecosystem and homestead.  It will be a great learning experience.  I also intend, contrary to the prevailing wisdom, to leave almost all of the honey for the bees over the Winter and harvest some in the Spring.

While I will not be tending the hive barefoot, and I will not have achieved my MooseBoots, I hope to find a mutually beneficial partnership with the hive.  I can't help but wonder what additional things I might learn to help me on my MooseBoots journey.


  1. Egads my friend. Perhaps you could fashion a bonnet out of rhubarb leaves and spider webs?! I've never been stung working my bees, but I do wear a bonnet. It helps to keep me calm, as a sting on the face (or worse, your airway) is nothing to take lightly.
    Not to discourage you!
    I'm sure you'll find your way with it, and you'll love having bees!

  2. I would actually love to have bees, but my mother in law and 1 of my nephews are allergic, so there is a chance that some of us could be as well. The boy is the only one who has ever been stung, so there is no way of knowing if any of us has an allergy - just don't want to chance it. I am excited for you guys and am looking forward to reading about the bee keeping journey.

  3. Given your plans, I think it's a good thing we have a healthy supply of jewelweed in the backyard ;).

    As for me, I plan to take Rowan's advice, and have, at least, a face net ... and definitely shoes! Having been stung on both the eyebrow and the bridge of my foot (not at the same time), I plan to take a few precautions ;).

  4. I find it so interesting that our activities and interests are so common...Ralph and I are planning on putting up two hives this summer. There is a local man who breeds queens who will sell us our initial bees, and has offered to show us how to build our own hives (to save money). I need to do more research, will check out the link you provided. Wendy, I have heard of jewelweed for poison ivy - it makes perfect sense to use it on stings, too. We use living bentonite clay for lots of stuff, and I will probably resort to that for stings....although I will get a face net, too! (I like Rowan's idea, though)

    Please keep us posted with your progress!

  5. السلام عليكم
    تحياتي ايها الفاضل ارجو ان نتبادل اطراف الحديث حول النحل ان كان وقتك يسمح واني اتشرف بك
    انا من العراق وليس لدي معلومات عما وصل اليه التطور في تربية النحل
    فائق احترامي لك


    1. Deus Ex MachinaSeptember 4, 2013 at 6:23 AM

      Translated from above ...

      Peace be upon you,
      my greetings to you, dear i hope to share the parties to talk about bees that was your time allows I I have the honor you
      I am from Iraq and not to information on the development of the bee-
      high respect for you.

    2. Thank you for your kind words. I have come a long way since this post. Please feel free to read some of things I have learned in the mean time.


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