The Ins and Outs of a First Year Beekeeper Part 1
The Ins and Outs of a First Year Beekeeper (Part 1)
I’ve always wanted to be a beekeeper at some point in my life. As a teacher beekeeping would be a perfect gig. There was only one problem. There was always an excuse. I couldn’t get hives while I was in college. I couldn’t get hives because I wasn’t going to live in this town or that town for a long time. I was always on the move. I never had enough room. When I moved to the town I live in now, a small town in Southern Ohio, I thought it would only be for three years and then I would be on my way. Then I met my soon to be wife and we bought a house out in the country.
I was now out of excuses. I had the space to keep bees and my roots are now deep in the ground here. This winter I decided it was time to make a move. There is always tomorrow or next year, but there is no time like the present. This winter I immersed myself in as many bee books as I possibly lay my hands on. I watched as many YouTube videos that I could. After reading book after book and video on video I got to the point where it was either do or die.
Bees seemed like a relatively easy thing to raise, which is good because I have no growing capabilities at all. I chose well when I decided that I was going to be a teacher rather than a farmer, because if I had decided to be a farmer I would be doomed.
One day over Christmas break my daughter came in my office while I was watching videos and she started to watch them with me. Her curiosity was peaked. I asked her if she wanted to go with me to get the beehives and with a nod of her head we were off to the local farm and supply store to see what we could get. We laid our hands on two bee hives at quite an expensive price. That was alright with me though as now we were on an adventure together.
When we got home we ordered two packages of bees which would be picked up April 23rd. Those of you with young children know that once a date is set the anticipation sets in. I would not be truthful if I said I wasn’t counting down the days as well. For years I had wanted to start this adventure and now the first day was set.
As April 23rd approached we started to prepare. When the bees are released from the package they will need to be fed via sugar syrup. We also had to buy a top feeder which would go right on top of the box the bees were released into. We went to Walmart and bought a 25 pound bag of sugar and when we got home we separated the sugar into cleaned out milk cartons that we would mix with water once the bees arrived. Doing this was a trial and error adventure. Getting the sugar from the 25 pound bag into the itty bitty mouth of the milk carton is a challenge indeed. As much as she wanted to my fiance didn’t even yell at me over the mess that I made during this procedure (and the ants hailed me as a god!)
April 23rd came after what felt like years of waiting. All the preparation we had put in was finally going to be put into play. I took my daughter out of school that day to spend some quality bonding time together. I was sure to document every step of the procedure. When we got to the bee company (Gaiser Bee Co.) we checked in at the cash register and got in line to receive out bee package.
In the back of a trailer were hundreds of perforated white boxes about the size of a shoe box. Inside were roughly 10,000 bees waiting to be released. Luckily the boxes were sealed tight and when ours were handed over the buzzing and humming knocked loose the nerves that I had steeled up to that point. But I was an official beekeeper surrounded by beekeepers so I had to keep my cool. Putting the two boxes in the back of the car we took off for home. As we were going home we could hear the buzzing from the back, but it wasn’t the aggressive buzzing you might associate with a hive of angry bees. This was a gentle buzzing of 10,000 bees content with their situation. When we got home we would release both of these packages into their new homes.