Sunday, April 11, 2010

Next Stop: Honeybees

Next month marks my first anniversary of keeping chickens. I have to say, without reservation, that it has been completely fun with no drawbacks at all, except maybe worry for their safety and well-being, which is always the price of love. I am so proud of having eggs that come from my own backyard.

Next month also marks the beginning of my foray into beekeeping. My package of honeybees is due to arrive May 15, a bit late due to horrendous weather in the South. Last weekend we drove out to Betterbee in Greenwich, New York, to get our hives and other gear so we have our setup ready in advance.

Not as lovable as my fine, feathered friends the chickens,
but bees are completely fascinating to read about.
Each hive is its own incredibly fine-tuned civilization.

Beekeeping seems like it will be harder and easier than chickens in different ways. A beehive is in many ways a self-sustaining community; the bees, for example, don't need you to give them food and fresh water every day. On the other hand, it's a whole lot more complicated trying to harvest honey than it is grabbing eggs out of the nest. Also, maintaining the bees' health sounds fairly tricky, with pestilential mites and other problems now so prevalent. On top of all that, the initial expense of buying the bees, hives, and equipment is much higher than the outlay to get started with chickens.

Oh, and did I mention the predators? Our chickens have attracted skunks, foxes, raccoons, and Cooper's hawks, all of which have so far been successfully foiled. Now we can add bears to the list. Once we get the hives set up, we're going to have to surround them with an electric fence to deter all of the above. Good times!

It can take a year for a new colony of bees to work well enough together
to produce excess honey for their keeper to harvest,
so it may be a while before I get this beautiful, delicious payoff.

Clearly, I'm feeling a bit nervous about this new homesteading adventure, mostly because I have no confidence whatsoever about how to do what I'm doing successfully. But hey, I work at Storey Publishing, right? I have a library of authoritative guidance and advice at my fingertips.

— Alethea Morrison, Creative Director


beekeeping supplies said...

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Emily said...

Good luck! What an adventure. I'd be too afraid of getting stung!

Kristen said...

Keep us posted, Alethea, on your bee keeping adventure! Good luck!!!

brendamod said...

Good luck! I love bees almost as much as I love chickens.

Bernadine said...

I can't wait to learn from you. I am getting a hive too and my concerns are the same. Today, while I was brushing my hugely pregnant milk cow, a bee landed on my hand and explored for a few minutes. I felt so honored!