Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beekeeping 101

Mike and I attended a reception in Arlington yesterday hosted by Dan Vanderburg, the novel writer whose book cover art I am painting. While there we met a neighbor who happens to be a beekeeper. Mike overheard him talking about bees and remarking that he had just retrieved a swarm.
Three years ago I had noticed a total absence of bees from my garden, and I was concerned about issues of pollination. And although honey bees are NOT native to North America, and there are other insects that can fill in the void and perform pollination duties, I was concerned and determined to learn about beekeeping and hopefully acquire a hive. It has taken 3 years, but the unassembled hive arrived in the mail Friday. I was warned that I would probably need an experienced bee keeper to help us assemble it, and the warning was accurate. "Some assembly required" was a gross understatement, and the instructions assumed we were way more informed than we are.
Assembling the hive was the first concern - getting bees into it was the next. My "online" help suggested that I make contact with a local beekeeping club and solicit their expertise. I was assured that SOMEONE would acquire a swarm that I could probably purchase. In addition they would help me with hive assembly - which obviously needs to come first.
Pete did all of this for us and more. He invited us to his home and showed us the basics of hive construction, told us optimum placement of the hive, hints on how to harvest the honey, reassured us of the benefits and fun of beekeeping AND generously gave us the swarm he had rescued (about 12,000 bees, he estimated). They quietly rode the 95 mile drive home in a box on the back seat of the car.
Today we assemble their home and "hive the bees" this afternoon. Yes, I DO have a face net and gloves. And I was told to gently spray the swarm with sugar water before "tapping" them into the hive. Merideth has demanded photo documentation of the entire process.
Stay tuned....
PS: In the Bible Deborah was a leader of Isreal: both militarily and diplomatically. AND "deborah", in Hebrew, means "the bee".
Judges 4:4
Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.

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