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Beekeeping 101

I was terrified of bees before they became a part of my family. I can’t ever remember being stung, although my mother assures me I stepped on a bee and was stung as a young child. My fiancé had kept bees before we moved in together and he was yearning for another hive. I was scared. Scared of getting stung, scared of other people getting stung, scared of a “My Girl” type sitch happening in my own backyard. It took him years to convince me, but with the hope of curing my allergies with backyard honey and the desire to craft my own air purifying beeswax candles, I agreed that we should adopt a backyard hive. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Beekeeping offers a reason to watch the seasons, to connect to the cycles of life and all the beautiful flowering plants around us. Without even trying, you become aware of the richness and vitality of Mother Earth and all she has to offer. It’s hard to describe the zen-like tranquility you feel when thousands of bees are dancing a few inches from your eyes and ears. It’s a connection to the innermost self and soul and the natural world around you that I’ve only experienced a few times in my life: when practicing meditation and when working with horses. Like equine therapy, beekeeping has been utilized to treat PTSD in veterans and assist in nature-based therapy for inmates in prison. The bees pick up on a peaceful personality. If I am calm, so are they. Some of us are naturally “cool as a cucumber”. Not me. I’m still learning and the bees are wonderful teachers.

Every few weeks, our amazing beekeeping guru and mentor Ruth Askren comes to check on the health of our hive and teach us her masterful ways. It’s important to have an expert, join a club or do a ton of research before beginning your own backyard hive. Albert Einstein apparently said, “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.” The natural world needs our help more than ever, with the terrifying effects of global warming and climate change growing larger each day. Becoming a backyard beekeeper is one amazingly simple and selfishly magical way to deepen your relationship to Mother Earth. Still not sold?

5 Reasons why Beekeeping is Freaking Awesome:

1. Natural Honey: The taste difference between natural honey and the store bought stuff is mind-blowing. It melts in your mouth, each batch is unique – I call it liquid gold. If you don’t believe me, just ask any beekeeper or any of my friends and family who have tried our backyard honey. Local raw honey does more than taste good. It can also help you to overcome your seasonal allergies.
2. Green Thumbs Rejoice: The bees will feed on your vegetables and flowers around your home (i.e. Pollination) and your flowers and vegetables will be happy for it. Oh my! How your garden will grow!
3. I-N-D-E(BEE)P-E-N-D-E-N-T: Raising bees isn’t like taking on a new form of livestock. They are brilliant little creatures that work constantly and do it all themselves. Every few weeks we go into the hive to check on their health, but otherwise, they work by themselves and they feed themselves most of the year.
4. Grammy Can Do It, Too! : Beekeeping is something that can literally be for anyone…young or old. it really is something the whole family can do together. Retired and looking for a new hobby to stimulate mind and body? Keep Bees! It’s also absolutely safe and most definitely fascinating for kids (with adult supervision of course :))!
5. Bees are Happy ANYWHERE: Do you live on a farm? Apartment in the city? Suburbs? No matter where you live, you can probably keep bees. (With regard to city ordinances of course.) A lot of cities love it because they struggle with having enough pollination. As long as you live in an area with flowers, trees, or plants then you can raise bees. It doesn’t matter how hot or cold your area gets.

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