For years I have dreamed of raising my own bees, but the process of becoming a beekeeper has been slow going. When I moved back to Texas five years ago, I was ecstatic to find out that one of the largest beekeeping schools in the state is held at our local fair grounds each year. Unfortunately, two out of the last five years I have had a baby on the same weekend the school was held.
Last year I was finally able to attend the beekeeping school. I attended the workshops, browsed the merchandise, and even suited up and visited with the bees. I can’t tell you how nervous I was to actually stand next to a hive with tens of thousands of bees. I think seeing the calm demeanor of the more experienced beekeepers really helped to sooth my nerves though.
After leaving last years conference, I was certain that I wanted to keep bees but getting from “I want to” to “let’s do this” is a giant leap. I spent the last year attending the monthly meetings of our local beekeeping association, soaking in as much knowledge as I could from all the old-timers.
This year’s school rolled around and my girls and I all attended the school together. We decided to divide and conquer with each of us taking different classes so we could share the knowledge with each other when the conference was over. I headed off to the top-bar hive class. Being the natural kind of girl I am, the top-bar hives just make sense to me. I was so excited to find out that Les Crowder, author of Top-Bar Beekeeping, was teaching the session. This book is an excellent resource for top-bar beekeepers!
One of my daughters wanted to go to the extraction class and the sales class–yes she is our budding entrepreneur. I don’t know how much she will work the bees, but she loves the business side of things so I know she will be a real asset to our operation!
And then there is 10 year old Hannah. She lives outside. It is like pulling teeth to get her to sit and get her schoolwork done. She wasn’t about to sit through a boring class and learn about bees when she could be outside experiencing them! She spent most of the afternoon suited up and checking out the hives. When I returned, she excitedly showed me her glove where she had been stung three times (one actually went through the glove). We will have to work on her handling skills, but I am thankful that she is not fearful of the bees.
So with two years of beekeeping school under our belts, I think it is finally time that we take the leap and get some bees!
We have been getting our hives ready and painted, our equipment in order and reading up on last minute details so that we will be ready for our bees when they arrive next week. As much as I wanted to go with top-bars, we were given two Langstroth hives (they are the “normal” kind that you see everywhere). I am very thankful to have them, so we are going to make the best of it and learn all we can. We are hoping to get some top-bar hives made for next years expansion.