It all began on Saturday, 19 May 2018, a cool gray afternoon when the beekeeper I have pestered for a year showed up at the greenhouse and asked, “Do you have an hour to help us install a couple packages of bees?” “Sure!!!”, I replied, and off we drove to the Apiary. I was handed a veil, and put it on, incorrectly BTW. Haven’t donned a veil in 15 years, and then again at least my face was covered. I’m tetchy about stuff striking, buzzing, and surely panic would ensue if my face were stung. Anyway, started to help haul hive bodies, frames, and two 3lbs packages of bees.
My history with bees is as a child I helped an old German beekeeper in the summers near my grandparents’ house for a couple years. Herr Schmitt was a kind and patient teacher and had kept bees since before the WWII. He taught me how to be calm and walk up to the entrance of the hives in his beehouse, but always to the side of the entrance. Bees will get grumpy and eventual angry if you block their entrance with one’s smelly mammalian form. I have been interested in bees ever since, and since the early 2000’s, I have been an Armchair Beekeeper. (Armchair Apiarist, sound cool too. Doesn’t it?) I read a book or two a year on bees. My excuse for not having my own hives is “Just could never find a place to keep two hives of bees or a mentor.” and always let external things prevent me from diving into actual beekeeping.
It is important to note that a smoker was not lit for installing the bee packages in the hive; the bees were fairly placid. Their tone, hum, or buzz was surprisingly calm for having been transported from goodness knows were for days in a breadbox-sized cage. Even a couple spare bees that had escaped the package clung on for dear life waiting for things to get better. While standing observing the two beekeepers install the hives, my inner dialog and feeling were wonderfully calm! I whole process had my wrap attention, and I was a good helper.
We talk about what they had lost more hives than expected this year because of the cold damp weather all spring and that there was room in the apiary. Dare I hope? A little pilot light of an interesting in bee flared up in my mind, heart, and even soul! The beekeepers said I had done a good job, and if I wanted to could keep two hives in this Apiary. BOOM! My mind was a BLAZE! “Sure,” I said, “I’ll get some hive ASAP, and thank you.” Thus a log languishing passion was set ablaze. It is a full-blown obsession now.
Where to start? I will need a book, I have misplaced my beekeeping books, so I went online and found a Kindle copy of the “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping” by Dean Stiglitz and Laurie Herboldsheimer. I started watching Beekeeping videos on YouTube for every spare moment, and went to Dadant and started shopping for equipment. Why Dadant? Out of a sense of loyalty because for years they sent me catalogs even though I never bought anything as an armchair beekeeper; persistence can pay off.
Finally, my wife says I came home a changed man. She has often seen the result of me developing a new interest usually after several weeks, she used to travel 80% of her time when we were first married, and I was always so happy to have her home, that it screened other passion that was on my mind. She laughs that she never witnessed the birth of one of my passions (i.e., gardening, cooking, model soldiers casting, furniture making, aquaria, etc.), but on this day she said: “I could see his mind was literally a buzz!” From inside my mind, I will confirm it was A BUZZ! So this is how an Armchair Apiarist became a Beeyard Beekeeper!