The Art of Darkness

Adventures in Beekeeping

April 5th, 2010 by Cobwebs

BeeIn my continuing effort to have acquaintances say, “You do what?” whenever they speak to me, I’ve recently added beekeeping to my list of hobbies.

Suburban and even urban beekeeping is increasing in popularity, and since it’s a subject I’ve been interested in for quite some time I finally decided to take a class offered by my local beekeeping club.* They’re an enthusiastic and friendly bunch, and like many gonzo hobbyists they’re eager to make all of us love their hobby as much as they do.

The classes have been interesting, covering topics ranging from sustainable pest management to how to bribe your neighbors so they don’t object to you keeping 50,000 stinging insects next door.** They even assigned each of us a mentor–mine bears a striking resemblance to a young Dumbledore–to help us get started. (Which is good, because there is one heck of a lot of new information to absorb.)

I hived my first package of bees last weekend, and as is apparently traditional I have named the queen. Lilith (queen of the damned) and her minions are buzzing around in my front yard, and I couldn’t be happier.

Shadow Jack, incidentally, has suggested that we eventually might sell beeswax and honey on the site, claiming that the products are the work of “zom-bees” using nectar collected exclusively from funeral lilies. Shadow Jack has a screw loose.

Anyway, bees. If you’re interested in exploring the hobby, check to see if there’s a local club you can join, take a look at books such as The Backyard Beekeeper or Beekeeping for Dummies, and look for relevant blogs (like Backwards Beekeepers) and forums (like Beesource). Come…join us. We have honey!

*Minor digression: In the first class we went around the room and explained why we were interested in beekeeping. One person had a small orchard and wanted to improve pollination. A couple of people wanted to help stave off CCD. When they got to me I joked, “My husband won’t let me keep goats, so I figured I could get away with smaller livestock.” At the break, three different women approached me and commiserated about the goats. A few weeks later I called a bee equipment supplier to order my hive, and while the nice lady was processing my order she asked why I was taking up the hobby. I explained that I’d been interested in it for a while, then made the same, “plus my husband refuses to let me keep goats” joke I’d made in class. She immediately said, “My husband won’t let me keep goats either!” There is apparently a huge number of women whose goat-havingness is being thwarted by our husbands, and we’re all turning to beekeeping to console ourselves. Someday we will raise an apian army and sting the bastards.

**They also recommended that we have our doctor write a prescription for an Epipen, even if we weren’t allergic. Just in case. This is the first hobby I’ve ever considered that has the potential to kill you. It’s awesome.

(Bee photo courtesy of Empress Pam, who watched the hive install.)

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