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


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