Confessions of a Reluctant Beekeeper

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2010_03_21_blog_bees_pumpkin 009Bees are magic made visible. From my first barefoot encounter in a clover patch, to the eye-level flybys among the ligustrum, to their temporary confines in a jelly jar, honeybees have graced my memories of childhood and summer like the sweetness of the nectar they collect.

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I began keeping bees several years ago. As a beekeeper, my technique is not to be emulated.  I tend to leave the bees alone as much as possible. Pampering didn’t work, and now it seems neither does benign neglect.

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My bustling hive one week is a sad reminder the next that magic isn’t easily sustained. My bees did not survive the winter nor the failings of a novice beekeeper. Remants of their engineering skills and artistry rest on my window sill, reminders that in life as with bees, we encounter some stings along the way to harvesting the honey.

What I was blogging about:

15 COMMENTS

  1. Renae, my best guess is I didn’t provide enough supplemental sugar water, and their population exploded with our unusually warm weather. The food supply could no support the bee population. In other years, my bees would die off, but have loads of honey in the hives. I’m surprised honey isn’t $30 a pint.

  2. This makes me sad. I’m hoping to get honey bees next year (mason bees this year) and I doubt I’ll fare any better than you did. The comb is beautiful to look at but bittersweet. Will you try again?

    I was reading about the top bar hives thinking it would be easiest.

  3. It’s so sad Tom. I’m sorry! Personally, I’m crazy terrified of the darn things which makes gardening rather hilarious cause I run like a nut case every time I see one. I’ve been running a lot lately cause our citrus are blooming right now. Maybe your bees came to visit their killer cousins!

  4. Thanks everyone for the kind words; it is disappointing to lose a hive, but I’ll clean it out and try again. And hopefully sooner than later, share my recipe for homegrown honey ice cream.

  5. As a side note, WSU has one of the best (one of the only?) apiarist programs in the country. I think they have special week-long courses and lots of resources. I met one of the professors and he spends a lot of time traveling and working with bee keeper.

  6. Renae, thanks for the tip; I’ll check it out. I wonder how honeybees even survive in the wild?A friend of mine is getting Russian honeybees, apparently they’re tougher and mite-resistant. Last year I had great luck in a wild hive taking claim to an empty hive of mine.

  7. I just took a beekeeping class and this guy has 80 colonies and says he lost 50% last year and expects to lose 20% every year so you just happened to lose a little bit more on the percentage side this time. Try again. I’m going to!!

  8. Aargh, the wonders of Google’s context-sensitive ad placement, surrounding your bee page with TERMINIX ads! Good luck, reach out to the Vashon bee group if you want to try again.

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