Beekeeping ... I've always been a bit curious about this somewhat mysterious hobby. My uncle was a beekeeper, and I remember growing up we were gifted many mason jars filled with delicious liquid gold.
Several years ago my neighbor became a beekeeper, and I soon found myself enjoying the sweet rewards of her labors. Mmmm ... honey drizzled over warm slices of homemade bread or biscuits. Again, I became curious about bees, and I soon watched her (from a distance) as she worked her hives. I began asking questions.
It wasn't long before I joined our local beekeeping club and attended their beginning classes. So much to learn, so much to remember. Could I do it?
As spring rolled around, the kids began to ask, "What do you want for your birthday?" I finally said, "You know, this year I want a beehive!"
And that's how it began — scouring catalogs for a beekeeper's suit, gloves, veil, smoker, tools, and hive kit. Reading all I could get my hands on and armed with the promise that my good neighbor would mentor me, I ordered my first set of bees.
It was exciting. they were delivered late in the evening. I woke up the next morning ready to follow the steps I'd learned. It was true. I was a beekeeper!
That was five years ago, and I've since added two more hives to my first hive. I've been blessed with delicious honey that I can now share with friends and neighbors. I've learned much along the way. I've lost bees to swarms, then turned around and captured swarms. I've lost hives that went into winter full and healthy, for no reason, have been opened in spring to find not a single bee. I've battled yellow-jackets, and certainly, I've been stung a few times.
But truly, it's been a rewarding, fascinating experience. Yes, the bee suits are incredibly hot on on those 90-degree, humid, summer days, and yes, there are times when I take a deep breath as many, many bees buzz around me, curious as to who has invaded their home.
But I wouldn't give it up, and I would encourage anyone who has the desire to seriously consider becoming a beekeeper.
Read, learn, join your local beekeepers association, ask questions, find a mentor, and read some more ... I don't think you'll regret it!