My beekeeping journey began by chance when my parents moved to a condo and had to give up their hive. At the time I knew absolutely nothing about beekeeping so I was thrown in blind. I joined the Susquehanna Beekeepers Association and began attending their monthly meetings. I was so fortunate to meet my mentor Ted at the farmers market. He came to my house the next week to look at my bees and began working with me closely to provide me equipment, instructions and learning opportunities. Throughout the years Ted has become a great friend and my bees have slowly begun to flourish.
That first hive died that winter pretty early on as it had been through a lot. I took a course on beekeeping at the community college that Spring and purchased a startup hive. They did well but ultimately did not make it through that winter.
So I tried again, this time armed with a little more knowledge. My friend Melissa who also has bees and I would trade and help each other with our hives to make it less overwhelming. Last winter was the first time my hive survived and in the summer I was very fortunate to finally taste their honey. It was the most delicious honey I had ever tasted because it came from my very own yard!
Every time I need to go work my bees I am overwhelmed. I still feel like I only know a small percent of all there is to know. I don’t do everything perfectly but I try to remind myself I am learning. I have been stung countless times.I have struggled a great deal with trying to be as natural as possible while also managing serious threats to the bees like the deadly varroa mite. I have lost many hives over the years and only harvested honey once.
So why keep doing it you might be wondering...
What I get from the bees in return for all the work and stress is priceless. They are a constant reminder of the oneness of us all. They are all working together for the collective. Each bee selflessly works itself essentially to death for the benefit of the hive. They do their duty to ensure the safety and needs of the next generation are met. How can we be more like bees, working as a whole for the benefit of those to follow? We may never be able to see the whole picture of what we are doing here on Earth, but the bees have taught me to trust that it is part of something bigger than us.
Beyond that, they are beautiful funny little creatures and they smell amazing! I love watching them fly in and out of the hive, and in the warm months seeing their little leg baskets filled with pollen. I love watching new bees chew their way out of their capped cells where they have turned from larvae to bee. I love seeing the white glistening half moon of larvae before they become capped. I love hearing the buzz of a full hive in summer. I love feeling the weight of a heavy frame full of capped honey, knowing they will have enough food to sustain them. I love seeing my yard full of bees on early spring days when most other insects haven’t returned yet. I love watching them pollinate things I have planted. I love the friendships and connections they have brought me.
So I will carry on and try and care for my bees as best I can, but also give myself a break when I can’t do it all. And I will continue to try to work, and live my life like a bee, focused on those yet to come and what we can leave behind for them to thrive.