Because of a random Facebook post, I became aware of a beekeeping conference held over Valentine’s Day weekend, not far from where I live. Lacking a date and not especially excited to watch other people be sappy, I decided to attend. What’s more romantic than a hive of 40,000 stinging insects, right?
My intent, was to hear from some of the greatest minds that our state has to offer on bee issues, and learn what I could do as a gardener to help the bees. I’ve never had a particular interest in keeping bees, but they are, of course, vital to the pollination effort and to every ecosystem. I’ve been aware of their decline and some of the possible causes, but I had no idea how much I didn’t know. It was a very eye opening two days, and I’m very much looking forward to attending again next year.
The conference, like many others, had both vendors and door prizes from those vendors. Lucky me, I won a door prize. Wanna guess what I won? That’s right. Bees! I won what is known as a nucleus hive or a “nuc” which is a number of bees that come complete with a queen and five frames of honey and brood. Prior to this conference I wouldn’t have had the vocabulary to tell you what any of those things were, but fortunately I was given a crash course and an excellent text book to get me started.
My first plan, quite honestly, was to join a bee club and find an established keeper who might want my prize bees, because I really wasn’t sure that I wanted to try to raise them. However, after two days of talking to other keepers and learning about these amazing creatures, I decided to embark on a new journey. I’m gonna be a beekeeper! I am wonderfully excited, and maybe a little bit terrified.
I’m sure this will not be my last post about bees, but since I’m still learning, I will leave you with my two favorite bee facts so far…
1. In the winter drones (male bees) are not useful to a hive. They are larger and require more resources than the female workers. According to the expert beekeepers at the conference, they “drink beer and watch football all winter”. So the women, literally gang up on the men and throw them out of the hive one at a time to die in the cold. (Told you this was a romantic conference. ♥)
2. Bees make a warning pheromone which is exactly the same chemical as what makes a banana smell like banana. So if you eat one and blow on a hive, you’ll put the hive on high alert!