Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Bees' Knees, Baby

   Hey there! So... Beekeeping Class. Loved it. After a lot of nervous excitement, I spent yesterday's gorgeous morning hours with my friend Tracy, who is by the way always wonderfully thirsty for knowledge and adventure. She was flat out the perfect companion for this event. Thanks for joining me Tracy!

   We were in an OSU-OKC classroom learning all about beekeeping in Oklahoma. Well, actually, we learned how much we don't know about this hobby. The instructor gave us three hours' worth of solid information but teasingly admitted that the real stuff comes in future classes. I suppose this is smart; for only a partial class fee (just $20) you get an excellent overview and the chance to see if you want to learn even more. Then he generously applies the money you just spent toward the full cost. My decision? Yes please!! I am enrolled in five more classes spread throughout the springtime.

For this charming bee skep image, 
Pinterest led me first to Montpelier Farmers Market 
And then ultimately Bee Haven Honey Farm.
The second site has a lovely mantra on its front page:

"Our toil doth sweeten others."

I just love that. It is the literal expression 
of the true mission of a hobby farm.

   I see many bees in our future, you guys. And wooden-ware boxes and queens and drones and veils. I see so much honey, molten rivers of it... I can already smell its sweet, spicy, thick nutrition.

   The class was interesting from the first moment until the last. Our instructor, Rick Hall, is president of the Central Oklahoma Beekeepers' Association. He stated off by saying this...

   Does it ring a bell? Winnie the Pooh of course! I love Winnie the Pooh. I have always wanted to visit Rabbit's garden and chastise him a little for being so grumpy.

   Did you know that a bee colony observes a strict caste system and that the queen is the only fertile member? I bet you knew that. But did you know that she is also the only bee who does not die when she stings? She only stings other queens, you guys. That is interesting. So look out, sister!

    The males are called drones and they are an extreme minority in the colony, just up to 5% of the population. Their sole function is to inseminate the queen. This happens on a "marriage flight" which can occur just ten days after the drones hatch! Whoa! Cradle rob much there, your Highness?

   Did you know that the average adult human can withstand about 500 bee stings? Did you know that honeybee venom is very similar to rattlesnake venom? Yikes.

   Having recently polished off Animal, Vegetable, Miracle the notion of growing foods with nuanced flavors particular to a geographical area is fascinating to me. Did you know that in addition to wines and cheeses, honey has this wonderful potential too? Honey procured in one area can taste special based on what flora are nearby. Doesn't this make sense, since what the bees harvest is exactly what goes into the honey? Our instructor described a honey producing area where Black Walnut trees are prevalent. This fairly made my mouth water with curiosity. 

   Hey, by the way, everybody should relax about killer bees. The last documented case of Africanized colonies was in 2005. 

   Have you ever heard of an apiary? That is simply the word used to describe a bee yard or a place where bees are kept. Oklahoma is zoned statewide for keeping bees, but interestingly the sale of honey and other bee products is is both unregulated and over governed at once. Apiology as a money making venture is a bit, umm, sticky. 

   I could continue listing these snippets of information for the rest of the evening, but as truly delicious as it all is, this knowledge is still very disjointed for me. That will be changing, and I am so excited to share this adventure with you guys. For now, thanks a ton for reading and for the sweet buzzing...

"Always watch where you are going.
Otherwise you may step on a piece of the Forest
that was left out by mistake."
~Winnie the Pooh


  1. Yay for so much wonderful information. I didn't know a majority of it, so it's awesome to think about. I may even take a couple of notes, if that's kosher?

    Another fact, that goes along with honey tasting like specific areas. Did you also know that if you eat local honey, you'll be less likely to have allergies in that area, for much the same reason as that it tastes specific to the area. Did I just make any sense?

    Anyway. I'm happy you're taking more classes. The way you describe your joy makes me happy too, for you, for other beekeepers. So fabulous.

    1. Hello again!! Yes,of course, please take notes, just know I am regurgitating info, definitely NOT an expert. LOL Yep, we talked about the allergy thing in class, and I've heard that from people before...isn't that cool?! My husband suffers from allergies terribly and loves raw honey, so I am hoping this will be a good thing for him. I never really had allergies, and sometimes wonder if it's because my Mom fed us so much raw food growing up, etc. Hmmm...

  2. Neat information, Marie. Maple syrup is another food that takes on differences via regions. I have some local syrup and it is much lighter than the norther syrup I'm used to (southern and northern Ontario).

    1. No kidding!! Huh. You know, I think in general we all miss out on so many beautiful things by shopping homogeneously. Is that a word? Very interesting! Heather, I wonder if you and I could work out a little Canada/Oklahoma product exchange sometime... give it some thought! xoxo

    2. What did you have in mind? I think it's a great idea - maple syrup for local honey? Ontario manure for Oklahoma manure? Don't think that would make it through customers. I'll put my thinking cap on and try to think of a way to come up with something.

  3. My Grandfather raised bees while I was growing up. I can still remember him donning the full body "bee" suit with the hooded mask and smoking the bees out to get to the honey. All of us kids would be wiggly in anticipation of the first bit of honeycomb. He canned his honey and we still, 10+ years later, have cans upon cans of it in our storage pantry. Between the honey and green beans we shall never go hungry (just bored with our choices!)

    1. Cool!! What a beautiful set of memories, I love how you describe them Tiff. My great-grandfather did too.... at class Saturday the instructor had some raw honey for us to inspect, and the fragrance almost knocked me out. It brought back SO MANY intense happy childhood memories for me! Much, much different from what we buy in stores.

      p.s., may you always more to eat than just green beans and honey!! LOL!!

  4. Just the title of this piece would make my very tough son wince. While hanging gutters on a house some years back, he got stung by hundreds of bees, fell two stories, and showed up at the ER in such wicked shape that the normally hard-to-scare ER docs and nurses blanched--and ran like hell to get his treatment started. He's fine, just has a thing about bees now.

    1. Oh that is awful!!! (I am a bad person because I am giggling though...can't help it, really sorry)

      That must have HURT! And that would be enough to give anyone a "thing." LOL Does he eat honey?

  5. How wonderful for you! And thanks for sharing the knowledge. Some of it known, others new, but all soaked up and kept for those weird social gatherings when weird facts are randomly shared. Or maybe for when Guppy requires an answer to a bee-question.

    How I would love to have an apiary! Or just a single beehive would do. You are very blessed and I am happy for your good fortune. Even if I had the space, Sparky is allergic to those marvelous wonders. Sigh. The possibility is that Guppy is allergic as well so, the chances are slim to none of having a little colony of my own.

    But enjoy your new avenue!

    1. Hello beautiful Nadya! I will probably accumulate and share LOTS of weird facts as we go along, LOL... So brace yourself. If you and Guppy were closer I'd invite you to help paint the hives. A couple of friends of mine are bringing their kids to do the creative work. So exciting! Thank you for your sweet encouragement!


Hey thanks for commenting! I love hearing from people. It's the best. I have recently added word verification, a necessary annoyance. Have a wonderful day!


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