Honey Bees

We are very excited about our newest venture here on the farm: The addition of honey bees!

It’s funny how life brings you around to things. For years, my husband has been talking about wanting honey bees. For me, it was one of those things that I kind of shrugged off. In the back of my head I thought: Bee’s sting

About 6 months ago I got the news that I am allergic to sugar. It causes extreme mood swings, bad break outs, and an overall feeling of yuck when I eat it. Though, I will be the first to admit that I love it! No more sweet temptations was not an option. So, of course, honey became the next lovely looking thing in my life. I began learning how to substitute honey for sugar successfully in all my favorite recipes. And thus a small love affair had begun.

In Oct, 2011, just a few months after I added honey to eliminate sugar, a great friend and fellow homesteader, sent me an email about a local Bee Keeping class she came across. Do I want to attend with her? Same thought popped into my head as before:Bee’s sting. But this time there was a draw to these little stinging things that I didn’t have before; a need for what they had to offer. So, I said yes and we signed up.

I will openly admit, I was pretty nervous the morning of the class. Thoughts going through my head where along this variety: I wonder how many times I am going to be stung today?

With shoulders back and a smile on my face, I put on my brave look and walked into the Gretchen Bee Ranch bee class.

Have you ever met someone that just seems to have a sense of peace that surrounds them? Like, as long as you are in their company, nothing can really go wrong? That was exactly the feeling I got when I met Mark and Thein Gretchen. They were warm and friendly, completely inviting and at ease in their back yard full of bees. There was a big, beautiful oak tree with chairs grouped around it in a circle, and just beyond that, in the back of their yard where multiple beehives.

We gathered around under the canopy of that oak tree and listened as Mark began telling us about the world of bees. I was intrigued by the obvious love this man had for his bees, much like my affection for our Dexters or Alpines. As he began to explain hive set ups, feeding, harvesting honey, and so on, I couldn’t help but latch on to his enthusiasm.

But as the teaching portion came to an end and the hands on portion began, my anxiety began to rise again. As Thien began handing out bee suits, I felt my heart rate increase.

Once again, I put on my big girl face and suited up like nothing at all was wrong in the world. All the time thinking:Bee’s sting

So, over to the hives we walk, a whole bunch of us looking like astronauts about to take off to the moon in our space suits.

Mark talked the whole time about the bees, and once again, I couldn’t help being taken in with his love for these tiny creatures. As he approached the hive, opened the box and pulled a frame full of bees out for us to see, I couldn’t believe how docile they were! They flew around peacefully and it actually mirrored the same sense that Mark and Thien gave us. We were all able to handle the bees, have them crawl on us and fly around us. It only took a few minutes, and I was completely lost in this new window in life. Seeing the hive work, understanding now what each bee was doing, and what rolled it was playing, put me at ease. Seeing how docile and gentle they were, how unthreatened by our being with them and in their hive gave me a great sense of comfort.

After working with the bees for a bit, we went in to the honey house to see the product these bees worked so hard for. We were able to taste all different types of honey. Really? Types of Honey?

I hope you all don’t laugh at me, but I thought the only different in types of honey was the label on the bottle at the store.

It was amazing! So many different kinds of honey, completely different tastes, and each one wonderful in it’s own way, but changed by what kind of pollen the bees fed off of.

This feeding of pollen opened up the final clincher in my new love for bees. As we talked about harvesting honey from bees that are making honey from pollen in your area, Thien brought up allergies. As soon as she said this, a tiny little memory floated in the back of my brain. Ya, I’d heard of honey helping allergies before, but my brain has a huge amount of “File for later” information in it and this was lost in the abyss.

Thein began sharing how she had suffered horribly from allergies for years, but when she began eating their raw honey, they began to ease. After a year, she saw such a difference, that she is able to be outside and enjoy life again.

Well, my husband has suffered from allergies for years. He had even resorted to injections to give him some relief. I am all for natural medicine and this just made sense. We are allergic to certain pollens. The bees collect nectar to make honey out of it and then mix some pollen into the honey. We eat it, thus feeding our bodies what we are allergic to, forcing it to build an immune to it. It’s the same concept as an immunization.

Now I was sold. I understand how to do this, the bees are nice, and the benefits are undeniable.

So, I left this class with a new purpose, another venture for our farm, and more work for my husband!

And a new thought: Nice bees don’t sting without reason. I know that any animal is given the ability to defend itself, but after seeing a docile hive in action, I have confedence that when raise correctly they would not sting unless it was due to the handlers fault. That I am not afraid of!

Being relieved of a fear is an empowering thing!

We just got our pick up date for our starter hives and we are busy gathering up information, plans and an order list to be ready for them. So, March, 2012, will be our starting point for this new addition to our lives.

One more learning experience, one more addition to enrich our lives, and one more step towards independence.

Here’s a link to find out more from Gretchen Bee Ranch: http://www.gretchenbeeranch.com/

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One thought on “Honey Bees

  1. Oh I am excited for you! I have also decided to do bee’s put probably won’t get mine till late April 2012. I have after some research decided to go with Top Bar Hives instead of the traditional Langstroth hives for a couple reasons, They seem to be easier to harvest from and require less equipment to harvest your honey with, secondly as I live within the city limits of a small city right now I am looking for something that won’t draw attention to the fact that I have bees. I can find nothing that specifically bans them but I prefer not to draw attention and cause someone to decide they want to regulate that too.
    On a side note, have you looked into stevia as a sweetener as well?

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