Okay–“Bee Your Thing” is a pretty bad pun. But perhaps it made you read past the title!
One of my undeclared things is beekeeping. I have a small hive of little honey-makers in my garden and for the most part they are darn self-sufficient little workers. Every few weeks I have to pull on the protective gear and open up their home to check in on them.
The great thing about bees is that they are smarter than humans when it comes to understanding what they need. We humans tend to over think things. They like to be left alone for the most part, and since the homes we provide them (the hives) are fixed spaces, they just ask that we give them enough room to multiply, which is really what they do best. So every few weeks I peek in on them, make sure they have enough room, and then let them do their thing.
If you mess this up a couple of things can go wrong. First, a small weaker hive could be attacked by “robber bees” or other natural enemies, so one has to take some precautions against that from happening. Second, if the hive is not well established and doesn’t have enough honey made to make it through winter, you have feed them some sugar water or organic honey to help them out. Finally, if you fail at giving them enough room to expand they will decide to high-tail it out and find another place to live (called swarming). Like I said, they are smart critters.
Finally, if you have been a good beekeeper and you have a nice hive of happy bees you are rewarded by…you guessed it…delicious organic local honey. Once box of honey comb will yield about 30 pounds of honey–which is enough to spread on toast all year long and to give as gifts to the tolerant neighbors who may have been stung while trimming their roses.
There is a movement afoot in Los Angeles, California to make beekeeping legal in all county cities. There are still laws on the books preventing urban beekeeping in many towns, most of which are rarely enforced unless a neighbor complains. Jars of honey liberally shared with neighbors seem to help with this problem!
More importantly, education helps. Bees are a vital part of the local ecosystem, and they are vanishing at an alarming rate. The notion of “killer bees” is more drummed up by the media to get ratings. Sure, disturb a beehive and you will have very upset bees. Beehives have personalities too–some are gentle and some get riled up more easily. But roving swarms of killer bees attacking innocent people at random is a Hollywood movie plot, not reality.
If you are interested in beekeeping, I recommend the book “The Complete Idiots Guide to Beekeeping.” You can also check you local area for clubs that can help mentor you. I recommend a club that promotes organic beekeeping principles that do not involve the use of chemicals, which I like to think the bees appreciate.