Glory's Garden

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Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Bees

Continuing with April's A-Z Blogging Challenge today B is for Bees.

Recall if you will, when I said I wanted to learn about bees in the hope I could keep bees, honey bees in particular. Well, Tom and I went to Franklintown, PA for the workshop run by PennApic and we met Julie Helms there.

How lucky for Julie that it was just a hop, skip and jump away from her home at Wooly Acres, so I had the fun of visiting with her and her kids--both human and of the goat variety--and also learn about bees.

More on Julie's kids later. For now, let's get to the bees. Don't know about you, but when I think bees I always think right along with them, Honey...yes, just like Pooh Bear!

But as Pooh Bear once said to Christopher Robin, "These are the wrong sorts of bees!"

That is to say, some of them are...the wrong sorts, that is. Unfortunately, Honey bees may not be for me, so they would be the wrong sorts, and I am rather sad about it.

First, I was silly enough to think Honey bees could do things on their own. Tom pretty much thought so too. Apparently not! There was so much to it, it made my head spin...and I had already had my dose of ginger for the day to prevent that.

I was disappointed that PennApic and their crew didn't really show how honey is extracted from the hives and things of that nature. They did show a "healthy" hive verses an "unhealthy" one and you know what? I couldn't tell one from the other. They were both full of bees, one with a queen and many active workers and the other with no apparent queen and all non-working drones. I was stumped. I just didn't see a difference and that told me all I needed to know. This was not for me.

Then we got around to listening to all the things which can go wrong; diseases, swarming, vacating, fleeing bees and whatnot. YIKES! Then we got around to the cost involved. It was three times what I had been told before--some $300 suddenly increased to nearly a thousand. Tom made the logical observation, "You can buy a heck of a lot of raw honey for that much money without all the hassle."

Have I mentioned lately my Tommy is brilliant? Well, he is!

What bothered Julie most is the fact that even if you do everything right, it can all be for nothing and you wind up with dead or diseased bees and/or those which fly the coup...okay, hive. And then there's the stinging bees thing...ouch!

We did learn about solitary bees, though, and those were easier to deal with--mostly because they don't make honey-- and just the type Julie might try. She just wants pollinators. For me, I must admit, it was the "free" honey and wax which mostly attracted me to this idea, but I also did want to save the bees, but I fear I may be of no use to them.

I still would like someone from around where I live to "use" my property as a honey bee sanctuary, but that idea was nixed straight away. Liability, access and a slew of other troubles were explained. Oh, well.

I do believe I will have to be content with the bees, flutterbys and other pollinators which frequent my garden and I'll just have to visit Julie's Wooly acres every time I wish for honey. She told me she knows a great place for pure real honey. Learning about bees was good even if I won't be doing the hive thing, so all in all, a good trip. I'll tell you about Julie's kids next time.


  1. Ah yes, bees! Nice post, Glory. After discovering "Vanishing of the Bees," ( I learned a lot about the little critters. They're important for the garden, that's for sure.

  2. Stopping by from the Challenge - I like honey, but not enough to learn beekeeping! I'll stick to books like "The Secret Life of Bees".

  3. Yes, Sheila, that was my conclusion too. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I have had books on bees for years, and I'm still fascinated by them, and interested in bees regardless. Up here we can buy a 'half hive' from a beekeeper that's already working and in progress. You just add supers on top and allow the bees to multiply.

    The only drawback is that it's a slower start, and up here, the season is shorter and the winter climate severe. Regardless, beekeepers seem to do fine --so it still may be worth doing. We shall have to see. Getting stung isn't one of my intended hobbies either. ":))

  5. Anything that stings gives me the creeps, but I know bees are important. Who knew there was so much to it though. Well, you and Julie obviously!

  6. We kept bees when I was a child. At one point we had more than an half dozen hives. They truly were not much trouble, easy to harvest and were a lot of fun. They had plenty to eat, so none of the hives swarmed until a new queen was born. And then, they moved into an empty brooder box just a little way away from the main group.

    We had one hive which lived indoors. We cut windows into the honey boxes (not the brooder box where the queen and the babies were), so we could watch them work. Bees really are a lot of fun, and they easily double the output of your garden...

    Glad you got to meet with Julie! I love Wooly Acres blog ;)


  7. Perhaps they were just telling us the truly bad stuff to prepare us, but what it did was make us say, "Not for us!"

  8. Well, at least you got an education :)


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