Monday, May 19, 2008

So, why bees?

In an earlier post, I stated how I got interested, but why? Here's the philosophy (which is bound to change somewhat) behind my decision to keep bees.

When I was a kid, there were honeybees everywhere. I would step on a bee and have a sting on the foot almost every summer. I hated that, but I also felt fascinated with the fuzzy little creatures. I knew that they didn't care about me as long as I wasn't stepping on them, so I got to the point where I would pet them as they went from flower to flower in my front yard.

Then they just weren't there any more.

Maybe I grew up and stopped looking for them, but when I wanted to see bees, I rarely did. I read about CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) and the imminent destruction of the world's honeybee population. I was concerned, sort of.

As I became more aware of the world around me, I realized that there's a lot happening out there that I am missing out on. There's so much to be learned if I am just willing to put in the time. Besides, if I can keep bees, there are sure to be great benefits from it, right?

I enjoy working outdoors. I have a small garden plot and keep dozens of houseplants. If I could live in a conservatory, I would. CJ is not ready for that yet. Bees perform 80% of the pollination on food plants consumed by the human race, so I figured, "If I am going to grow my own food, I may as well get the pollinators to help me." So I began looking into keeping bees.

I want to have my own honey too.

Right now, my modest bee colony is in a single, deep, 10-frame Langstroth hive that I will probably expand into a 2 deep hive body with 2 or 3 medium supers. I hope this colony will get strong enough to fill that baby right up. Still, I don't know how "hands-on" I want to be with these little marvels. I'd really rather give them a space to live and let them do their thing like they have for millennia. I'm not real excited yet about exploiting the girls for their honey and making a fortune selling bee products. I just want a garden that thrives, a few pounds of honey at the end of the year, and an opportunity to teach my children about life and nature.

I am looking at building a top-bar hive in case I decide to split or catch another swarm. It would be nice to compare the hives' success side by side.

So there it is in a nutshell. This may become an obsession after a while, or it may wane. I am not the type to neglect my bees even if this passion wanes, but I can be quite content with one or two colonies buzzing around my yard. If it grows, I already have offers of out-yards where I can keep colonies. Who knows, maybe it will turn into something more.

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