It's summertime, so I thought it would be fun to focus on something a little different with this post.
With the recent rise of "urban farming" in cities across the country, there's been a lot more talk about bees and beekeeping.
It so happens that a friend of mine, Sacha Matheos, is a beekeeper, and I thought I would do a little Q&A with her about the subject that has many people buzzing:)
Question: What inspired you to become a beekeeper?
Answer: WHEN I WAS AROUND 4 YEARS OLD, I WAS CONVINCED THAT HONEY BEES WERE MY FRIENDS. I WOULD SIT IN THE GRASS AND “PLAY” WITH THEM UNTIL ONE STUNG MY FINGER, BUT I WASN'T MAD. I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED BEES. I ALWAYS KNEW THEY WERE GOING TO BE IN MY LIFE, I JUST DIDN’T KNOW WHEN OR HOW.
Q:Where did you learn the craft?
A: I TOOK A SIX-WEEK BEEKEEPING CLASS PUT ON BY MY LOCAL BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION.
Q: Do you have to become licensed to become a beekeeper?
A: NOT IN THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA
(Interested people should check with their local city and state laws)
Q:,What kind of supplies did you have to buy or make?
A: PART OF THE COURSE WAS TO BUILD YOUR OWN HIVE BY HAND SO THAT YOU KNOW WHAT GOES INTO YOUR HIVE. I BUILT THE HIVE BODIES, SUPERS AND FRAMES. I ALSO BOUGHT A HIVE TOOL, WHICH IS IS LIKE A SMALL CROW BAR, A BEE BRUSH, SMOKER, GLOVES AND HAT WITH NETTING.
Q:What about the suit - do you have one?
A: I DON’T HAVE A SUIT. I WEAR MY HAT WITH THE NETTING, MY GLOVES, ALONG WITH A LONG-SLEEVED SHIRT.
Q: Are there certain rules in your city regarding having a hive within city limits?
A: YES. THE AMOUNT OF HIVES A PERSON CAN HAVE IS DETERMINED BY HOW MUCH LAND YOU HAVE. YOU HAVE TO HAVE A SIX-FOOT FENCE IN FRONT OF THE HIVES TO PROMOTE UPWARD FLYING, AND YOU HAVE TO ALSO KEEP RECORDS OF YOUR BEEHIVES.
Q: How do you get your bees?
A: YOU CAN EITHER GET A "NUC" (NUCLEUS) OR A PACKAGE. SOME PEOPLE THINK NUCS ARE BETTER BECAUSE YOU WILL HAVE A RELATED QUEEN. A PACKAGED QUEEN IS IFFY, AS THE BEES MIGHT NOT ACCEPT HER. IF THEY DON’T ACCEPT HER, YOU HAVE TO BUY A NEW QUEEN AND THEY ARE PRICEY.
Q: How often do you check on them?
A: NOT VERY OFTEN. SINCE I AM NEW, I CHECK ON THEM EVERY COUPLE WEEKS. A SEASONED BEEKEEPER MIGHT CHECK ON THEM ONCE A MONTH, IF THAT. EVERY TIME YOU OPEN THE HIVE YOU SET THEM BACK THREE DAYS, SO YOU WANT TO BE CAREFUL.
Q: Can you estimate how many bees you have?
A: BETWEEN 60,000-80,000 BEES IN THE SUMMER PER HIVE.
Q: When do you expect to have your first honey harvest?
A: NEXT YEAR!
Q: What will you use the honey for - personal use or commercial sales?
A: JUST LIKE THE EGGS MY CHICKENS LAY I WILL BE USING OUR HONEY FOR OUR PERSONAL USE, AS WELL AS TO GIVE TO NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS.
Q: Are you an organic beekeeper?
A: I DON’T KNOW IF ANYONE IS TRULY AN ORGANIC BEEKEEPER. OUR YARD IS KEPT NATURAL, BUT THERE ARE PEOPLE IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD WHO USE CHEMICALS. I CANNOT CONTROL WHAT FLOWERS MY BEES LAND ON - NO ONE CAN! BEES FLY UP TO FIVE MILES IN SEARCH OF NECTAR, SO THERE IS NO TELLING THEM WHERE TO GO.
Q: Have you been stung yet? Are you worried about getting stung?
A: MY BEES HAVE NOT STUNG ME YET. I AM NOT WORRIED AT ALL IF I GET STUNG. I WOULD BE MORE WORRIED ABOUT THE LITTLE BEE THAT JUST DIED STINGING ME.
Q: Do you have any fun facts about bees or beekeeping?
A: IT TAKES TWO BEE STINGS TO KNOW IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO BEES. EACH HIVE HAS A DISTINCT SMELL - THAT LETS BEES KNOW WHICH HIVE IS THEIRS. ANCIENT EGYPTIANS WERE KNOWN TO BE BEEKEEPERS AND BURIED THEIR LOVED ONES WITH HONEY, AND THAT HONEY IS STILL GOOD TO EAT! BEE STINGS ARE USED AS TREATMENT FOR AUTO-IMMUNE DISEASES.
Thank you, Sacha! I loved reading your answers. Hopefully, other readers will find beekeeping and other "urban farming" methods are interesting and worthwhile. As a thank you to Sacha, I will be sending her this "bee"-utiful necklace from Urban Creatures.