The closer we examine the honeybee, the more we realize the workings of a beehive encompass territories beyond our comprehension. – Leo Tolstoy
A little over a year ago, we lost all of our hives after the passing of two beloved in our family. Disappointed and feeling stretched thin, I gave the equipment for one entire hive to my local farmer – where we had been keeping a colony to help pollinate their fields. We liked being part of the local food shed, but it was just too much to homeschool, get a master’s degree, do chores, teach Sunday School and take care of the bees in the garden and the bees on the farm. Time to pair down.
We considered getting out of the bee business altogether but one factor motivating replacing the hives is the situation with the disappearing bees. Last March, one of the nation’s largest beekeepers lost half of their hives. This is pretty significant. There are many who say that it is the hobbyist beekeepers that will save the bees. The reason? They are more likely to use sustainable organic methods, raise bees that stay in one place with seasonal local foraging possibilities. All that combined will breed heartier less stressed bees.
So, last summer, we jumped back in and set up two young hives of Russian bees in the garden.
These came from local beekeeper in Maryland. His name is Charles Walter and he is part of a certified bee breeding program for our region. You see, our local beekeeping community is working diligently to breed bees that thrive in our area. Every region has it’s own climate and nectar flow patterns and pests… these awesome men and women are rearing queens that are well suited to our region- many of them do it organically too!
That means for a queen breeding program, that apiary is not allow to intervene on any of those hives. The colonies need to be strong, and produce queens with hearty DNA that aren’t as susceptible to mites.
As it turned out, we picked up our bees from the apiary in person – which was awesome, because we got to see a master beekeeper open up his hives. I learned more that day watching him then in all my beekeeping classes! The result was a drive home with 30,000 bees in the car… give or take a few. The kids joked and wondered whether we should put the “Bee Movie” on for the drive home.
to bee continued