On Becoming a Beekeeping Geek (“Beek” )
Beekeeping and painting are not exactly two hobbies you would think went together, but I can explain. In encaustic painting, it’s easy to “pour through” wax. This winter I went through just about 100lbs, a good 30% ($300.00) of that wax went up in smoke, literally. Then I thought, “Maybe I can grow my own wax.” I thought back to my childhood, to the farm behind my house where our neighbor Mr. Nutter, kept beehives on his farm. I would see him out there in his white suit, thinking he looked like someone from outer space.
As a more-than-middle-aged woman, living on a farm part-time on Maryland’s beautiful Eastern Shore, the thought of beekeeping appealed to me. I started doing research. I bought a book, Keeping Bees with Ashley English and posted a note on Facebook asking my 200 or so friends if anyone knew anyone who kept bees and the response was amazing. I had no idea how many people embrace this hobby. I also came to learn that it had been illegal in Howard County, Maryland to keep bees, but now things were looking up for the outlaw beekeepers.
I learned how important beekeeping is to our environment and even our existence. In fact, we can thank bees for one-third of the food we eat. Over the next few months, I will be sharing my experiences with you on how I got started as a “Beek”, a term that I embraced during my research.
Now that I’ve been through the experience of setting up hives, despite all the challenges including being robbed, I hope that this serves as an educational piece for you or someone you love and will encourage you to raise bees. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to install hives, the cost is manageable with a little bit of planning and saving, and the benefit for you, your family and the environment outweigh the risk of being stung or attracting pests. Chances are you can find a half-a-dozen people who are beekeepers that will be more than happy to help get you started. If that is not the case, there are likely classes in your area that you can attend, and people there who can serve as a support group. The only liabilities, beyond the occasional sting, are the possibility of attracting pests or animals that can ruin your hives, and you will need to replace parts or buy more bees.
Next post in this series: Setting up the Hives (part 1)