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Beginning Beekeeping

Last night I started learning about beekeeping from Morton Arboretum's beekeeper, Greg Fischer, of Wild Blossom Meadery. He's kept bees since he was young and, by the way, brings a selection of meads to sample for class. (Last night we had one sweet and one dry and I confess to liking the dry better.) Greg does have a presentation on his computer about bee types, hive types, hive basics, and such, but the real treat is in hearing him speak at length about his passion. He sometimes loses his train of thought, but can go off the top of his head about bees in a way that is both accessible and complete. And he's totally open to questions from the practical to the philosophical.

Some of you may remember my previous seminar during a "bee weekend" and I liked it enough to come back for even more. I'd say I'm in the middle of the class with a range from "about to start a hive this spring" to "what's a bee?" I have enough knowledge to educate my friends, but not enough that I'd be comfortable on my own ordering a hive, queen, and starting out. Greg presents a nice "spectrum" of information whether that's where to order from, how he does it versus others, the range of options from basic to deluxe...everything comes across as non-scary and doable no matter the budget or ability of the beekeeper.

Last night's class was mostly on bee basics though next week he promises to bring more show and tell and (weather permitting) we'll meet before class to get a little hands-on knowledge by opening up one of the arboretum's hives. His philosophy is the best way to learn beekeeping is to keep bees. Of course--like my other hobby of roasting coffee--it helps to have some background before you attempt it! You can describe all you want, but showing is probably better.

I have to say last night got me really excited about having bees and I wish there was a way to make it work while we're living here. I don't think our condo common yard would be appropriate. No roof access either for bees up there. Perhaps I can con a neighbor into some honeybees on their property with a few jars of honey? I may have to ask around.

By the end of the class, I think I'll be ready to order some equipment and a queen and tend my bees. Bees are so important and so easy to have around really. The more we can do for the bees, the more they will do for us.