(photo from Waldo Apiaries)
We received our economic stimulus check last week. What to do with it? We had lots of ideas but the one we liked best was to buy some honeybees. We've been talking about it every year for the past 10 years but never got around to actually ordering bees.
My first husband and I used to have beehives. We started with two and grew to four (or was it six? I can't remember). But try as I might, I could not work the hives.
I tried. I really did. I would suit up, get the smoker going, put on my veil and sally forth to the hives. I'd read enough to know that bees don't really want to sting me (oh yeah?) and I understood that the sting was simply a defense mechanism.
But every time I tried to open a hive, I panicked. Bees in my face--even through the veil--were scary. Bees under the veil were panic-attack material. Bees stinging me was not something I ever learned to tolerate.
Our mentor, the late Ray "Honeybee" Harvey from Sandyville, never cared about being stung. He didn't even wear a veil or use a smoker to work the hives! He smoked a pipe, and he would blow a little smoke into the entrance of the hive he wanted to work with, and the bees settled like lambs in new clover. I admired his approach but could never get over my fear of being stung.
But I love honey. Especially honey from our own land and bees. I miss the hives under the black walnut trees. I miss having lots of honey in jars, and beeswax to make candles.
Fortunately Larry is interested in keeping bees too, and he remembers working bees with his Dad. They caught wild bees. Larry remembers that his Dad would follow the bees back to their bee tree. Then he would cut the tree down, cut out the section where the bees lived, and bring it home. He's put a top and bottom on it, and voila! Instant hive.
I don't want to bother wild honey bees, for several reasons. First, they're doing quite well without our intervention. Second, there are several maladies attacking bees these days, and bees in the wild are getting scarce. If we have wild bees around our farm, I'd rather leave them in the wild and buy bees to supplement the pollinating activity.
This past Saturday we were in town for breakfast and ran into some good friends who have also been talking about getting bees. With the incentive check just deposited in the bank, I thought the time was right.
"Let's go to the library, get on the computers, and find us some bees," I suggested. As if in agreement with this plan, the heavens began to pour rain on the street. No rush to go home in that deluge--we couldn't mow grass or work in the gardens as we'd planned.
We went to the library and began our search. After about 20 minutes of "sorry, we're sold out for the season" websites, we found what we were looking for in Waldo, Ohio. "Last order of the season: delivery date June 11."
But where's Waldo? Although we live on the border with Ohio,it's a big state and parts of it are a six-hour drive from here. An Expedia search showed us that Waldo was just outside Columbus, about 3 hours away. Easy drive (hey, it's mostly flat!) to the Waldo Apiary (and they even have a tavern--amazing). We called and ordered our bees as we stood on the now-dry street.
So the bees, we hope, are on their way--2 hives for us and 1 for our friends. We hurried home to find our beekeeping book (old, but still applicable) and any other equipment we might have. June 11th is not so far off!
If you're interested in getting some bees, here's contact information for Waldo's:
Waldo Ohio Apiaries
firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-524-6241. They can guide you through the process of starting a new hive.
When we got home, we found that it had not rained here at all. Go figure. I think it was a sign to make us stay in town and order those bees.