Hobby Farm Topic: Bees

Nothing compares to the sweet realization of bringing in a harvest from your very own labors. 

If you are also a fan of the popular slogans on packaged foods bearing the boasts of, "No High-Fructose Corn Syrup," "All Natural" or "Locally Grown," you will cherish the knowledge that keeping bees is neither harmful nor hard. 

Though city-dwellers such as myself are limited on how extensive our farming hobbies can become, my expert, bee-keeping friends share some of their joy, wisdom and I hope, in a few months, their honey.

For them, a simple fascination turned into a Sunday afternoon whim of purchasing one of hundreds of "Dummy" books.  This particular piece of literature was on keeping bees.  The step-by-step process later delivered two build-it-yourself beehives, a cold, January afternoon of assembling the kits, and finally the delivery of several thousand bees complete with two queens and their own personal body guards in early April.

Don't get me wrong, I reacted just as most people would at the mention of bees--as if I were swatting away one buzzing right in my face.  "Do you know if you're allergic?" I asked, and since my friend is a pastor living right next to his church, "What will your congregation say to this?"  He assured me on both points, but didn't honestly know if he himself was allergic.

Honeybees are actually very uninterested in human flesh and blood, and the breed he was purchasing was even considered gentle--that is until you move in for their honey.  A few puffs of smoke in the hive, however take care of that kind of aggression. 

In support of his ventures, I planted 200 bulbs of tulips, crocuses, and whatever else I could find on sale in September.

One year of waiting, watching him pull from the hives, frame after frame, heavy with layers of bees and beneath that, honey, I know it is still only March, but my tulip bulbs are budding, and he tells me his bees are loving this unseasonably warm weather.  Bees go out and come in with packets of pollen tucked under their legs. 

The bees do all the work.  My expert friend keeps a careful watch, and I am contributing what my own small plot of soil can produce in hopes of my first jar of honey, Locally Grown, No High-Fructose Corn Syrup, and completely All-Natural.

There is nothing like honey on a warm slice of cornbread when you rest from your labors.

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