the apiarist

Posted by in earthkeeping, family, farm, homekeeping

back in july, i wrote about
our day at the beekeepers association annual picnic. while we were
there, we met a couple who we discovered were our neighbors (meaning:
they live 4.5 miles from us). Buzz and Aleda keep several hives in
their back yard – their house is near a busier intersection, so this
proves that if you have a little bit of land, keeping bees isn’t all
that difficult. they gave us their card (they sell their award-winning
“BuzzAleda Honey”) and told us to come over anytime we wanted to “hang
out with the bees.”

tuesday was the perfect day. it wasn’t
humid, nor raining. kenny gave them a call and of course, Buzz was
excited to have an excuse to open up the hives up and show a new
beekeeper the ins and outs of the honeybee hive. Buzz and Aleda are
grandparents, so the boys were entertained by lots of running around
and jungle-gym climbing, and sand-digging (and two popsicles EACH!)
while kenny met a few thousand bees.

i was able to grab a few
photos of kenny suited-up with bees in-hand, but you’ll have to excuse
the window screen in the picture. i was holding adam and taking the
shots (while the boys played about 3/4 of an acre behind the hives),
and we weren’t suited up. and although kenny said they were the most
docile bees he’s ever “met,” we weren’t chancing it to take a photo
without a screen in between!

before you open a hive, you “smoke” the bees with a smoker.
the idea behind a smoker is to make the bees easy to manage. when they
sense smoke entering the hive, they engorge themselves on honey
thinking that they need to stock up on honey, leave the hive and
survive until the “fire” is gone. a bee engorged on honey is a very
relaxed, docile bee, so it’s easier to manage the open hive with
friendly bees. kenny holding one of the frames:

if you look closely, in the center of the cluster of bees you’ll
see a yellowish dot on the back of the queen. Beekeepers sometimes put
the dots on the queen so they can identify them quickly. there is one
queen per hive of up to 50,000 bees! the queen lays all the eggs in the
hive which produce either a drone (male) or a worker bee (female). the
honeybee lives for up to 3 or 4 weeks while the queen lives for however
long the workers deem necessary.

the setting sun on a hive of bees and their honey combs.

i never would have thought beekeeping was fascinating until kenny
mentioned he wanted to keep bees one day. even then i wasn’t
interested. i kept referring to it as “his hobby.” but now i am just as
excited to receive and keep a hive ourselves.

you can’t get a
hive until spring, and if you order it through a catalog, you have to
order in the dead of winter (january). you can also get a swarm from
another beekeepers, but you still have to order a queen to keep the
hive a-hummin’.

there is so much to know and learn about (and
benefit from!) the honeybee. if you need or want proof of the One True
Creator, study the intricacies of the intelligent honeybee. Intricacy
and intelligence are God’s specialty.