What does that word immediately bring to your mind? For some, its fear. We typically think of bees, and then we next think of a painful sting.
Up until about 3 years ago, when I thought of bees I didn’t have any memory of a sting. That all changed the day we took a bike ride, and an insect flew into my bike helmet, and stung me on the ear. At least once. But it felt like a hundred times.
What probably flew into my dorky-looking-yet-safety-producing helmet that day was probably a yellowjacket – which tend to look more, I guess, ‘beetle-ey’ with a hard noticeable exoskeleton.
And not something fuzzy, sweet, and non-confrontational, like: A honeybee.
Though, really, its hard to tell. Italian Honeybees, which you can see here, have a nature that is pretty docile. They’ll defend their hive with all they’ve got – but you really gotta get ’em riled up, and be perceived as a threat. Yellowjackets and other wasps tend to be more aggressive, more easily agitated. How might one appear as a threat to these buggers? According to several wasp sites that I visited, ” wearing colors” or ” moving” near wasps and their hives, is enough to set them off.
I try to put the memory of the cauliflower-ear-swell-fest that occurred after the sting out of my mind, and instead focus on the sweet, sweet product of honeybees. Which is…well…honey. Of course.
Honey is a great natural sweetener, that has been found, preserved, in archeological digs in ancient Egypt! All the fruits and veggies we enjoy depend mightily upon the bee and other insects, for pollination. According to backyardbeekeepers.com, honeybees themselves account for 80% of pollination! That makes mysteries such as Colony Collapse Disorder (where beekeepers began losing 30 – 90 % of their bees to death each year) very, very troubling for all food! And all people who eat it! *You can learn more about CCD here, and may I just note, there are many links to increased and increasingly varied and dangerous pesticide use that may be a factor in all of this. This phenomenon continues, and a dedicated team of researchers continue to put the pieces together.
I became interested in keeping bees through reading quite a few books – books on homesteading, both in the country, and urban. There is a neat novel that reads like a beekeeping guide called “Beeing” that I suggest you check out from the library (or buy, if you have a mind to. But you know how frugal *I* am). I also became interested when I started buying local honey, from Paul and Lori Luthi of Three Bears Honey Co (click for their contact info). Please also keep the Luthi family in your prayers, and consider attending a fundraiser benefit for Lori, who is undergoing costly cancer treatments. Click for more info on the event.
I am kind of a stubborn person that likes to have tried everything once, and if I fail, then I can put it out of my mind. But…if its out there…not tried yet…I just can’t seem to rest until I, personally, have done this thing. Backyard beekeeping is “one of those things”. I’m *hoping* to go to a backyard beekeeping workshop in Medina, at the end of the month. This workshop is one of many hosted by Farrms.org – check them out for upcoming classes and dates!
Oh, and here is a picture of a Bee Haus, which might be a hive model that would fit in with the plastic urban landscape, and be more low-profile.