I’m on a blogger advisory panel for Hey Let’s Grow. As part of our continued education, we got to learn more about bees AND get to stand-in as beekeepers for a bit!
Beekeeping. It’s something that I’ve admired others for doing for quite a bit of time, but never saw myself participating in. Until this week. This week, I went and donned a pristine beekeepers suit, and ventured towards a bee hive to get a closer look at how hives work, and exactly WHAT a beekeeper does when they are poking around in those boxes.
Be still my animal loving heart. I felt a little like Mike Rowe, and that I was embarking on a pretty epic job training session. Except, honey was our reward.
If you remember, a while back I visited Cantigny Golf Course and I was able to see bees in action, but we could NOT get super close to the hives because we weren’t suited up properly. You can’t tell me ANYTHING now! I do respect the work that apiarists (beekeepers) do, and I know that they have to be extremely calm in order to work through all of that buzzing and flying, and whatnot. I was able to grab a video of our wonderful experience, and I’m glad to see that Jerry Hayes, apiarist for Monsanto, shared so much information so that I can understand our tiny friends a bit more than I did.
I did know how important bees are in regard to the production of food in the world, but I’m always humbled by the fact that honeybees alone are responsible for such a large amount of the food that we eat. If we didn’t have them, I couldn’t have almonds, avocado, many types of juices that I’m not supposed to drink, and hardly any of my community garden would flourish. I mean, I couldn’t make people run screaming whenever I brought zucchini around. Can you imagine me trying to hand out produce in a proper beekeepers suit? I’d be too hot to trot!
Jerry assured us that we didn’t have to be afraid of the bees at all, and even picked a drone out of the hive and gave it to me to hold. I’m no punk, so I did it. Mostly because I was on Facebook Live and wouldn’t be able to live down the fact that I didn’t. Possibly. That drone stayed with me as if he were being paid to protect me. Did you know that drones are removed from the hives at the end of their “season” because the queen of the hive just doesn’t have the energy to mate AND make sure they are fed. Drones are fertile male bees that are the result of unfertilized eggs, and their ONLY job is to mate with the queen, and all of them don’t even get to do THAT. They don’t help raise the bee babies, and they don’t gather any nectar or pollen. The life, right? It’s like a college campus for sure.
The smoke that was used to disrupt the scent of the bees (that’s what’s used to calm them down enough) is from pine shavings. Just squeezing the smoke into the hive is enough to make this job not as scary as it could be for me. I smelled the smoke and instantly thought barbecue, but it doesn’t take much to get me thinking about food.
It’s pretty awesome to see all of the pollen coming back from the gathering of these small insects.
Here’s one of the bloggers trying honey straight from the comb! The beeswax breaks so easily, and the honey flows in such a great golden wave. Fun fact: did you know that the color of your honey is dependent on the season? Fall honey is the darkest, while honey made in the spring is the lightest!
I know one thing though, if we don’t make it as apiarists, we will definitely make a good looking cover band – The Beekeepers maybe?
I’m so geeked out about the entire experience, and also grateful that our time for beekeeping was switched from the afternoon to the morning since it was going to be just over 100 degrees this day. Heat and I have an understanding. It helps my garden grow, I choose to ignore it until the sun goes down. Stay tuned for our adventures at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, and the panel that we spoke on for Monsanto employees and others in the agricultural field!