Can bees count as livestock?
We have working critters again! Ever since getting rid of the ducks, it’s seemed a bit empty around here.
So why bees?
Well, there’s the obvious answer: HONEY!
Processed honey is pretty much just garbage. And local, raw honey is incredibly expensive! Last time we bought good local honey, it was about $10 per pound in bulk!
The other reason we wanted bees isn’t so obvious. There is actually a growing “Save the Bees” movement that encourages everyone who can to have even just one hive in their backyard. Why? Bees are in trouble, y’all. Serious trouble. When bees collect nectar from farm crops treated with pesticides, they take the contaminated food back to feed the hive, and the entire hive gets sick. Bees in the wild are disappearing.
Considering that we depend on bees to pollinate most of our crops, this is a pretty big deal.
Bees it is then!
Last year, Matthew saw a kickstarter project for a new concept of beehive. This innovation is called the Flow Hive. It’s really cool! Some guys in Australia decided to come up with a better way of harvesting honey, so they invented a beehive that actually provides honey on tap.
This is NOT the most economical beehive out there for sure! And if we were investing in multiple hives, we would go for a less expensive option. But the hive isn’t the only expense to consider. With a traditional setup you need several additional tools to extract the honey, and those add up fast. So for a family who just wanted to learn with one beehive, the Flow Hive seemed like a good place to start.
Picking up the actual bees to go in our new hive was an adventure! Although you can have a starter box of bees shipped to you, they usually come from california. Matthew wanted to be more selective about the breed and wanted to find local bees that he knew were likely to thrive here.
Plus, packaged bees are usually just a bunch of random bees, with a queen thrown in. We wanted to start with what is called a nucleus or “NUC,” which is basically just a young hive, with a new queen and her actual children, so everybody already know each other and there is less stress on the critters.
To find the bees, we went to Craigslist. The closest NUC was 3 hours away in Springfield… So we took a little roadtrip!
And actually, out of the 5 families that all met to pick up bees that afternoon, we had the shortest drive.
I was a little nervous about the idea of being stuck in the car with a box of stressed-out bees, (aka “I am NOT going to be driving down the freeway when the bees get out and fill the car with my babies strapped in the carseats! We’re NOT going!”) so Matthew got a mesh laundry bag to wrap around the sealed box, just-in-case. It ended up being an awesome precaution, because the box started leaking bees! Ha!
Once we got home and let the bees settle down for a couple of hours, Matthew moved them into their new hive. Sorry I don’t have better pictures… the girls and I were bravely hiding behind our bedroom window!
He decided to try his hand at beekeeping without the protective gear. The idea is that bees respond to your stress, so if you are calm and respectful of the bees, and listen to their “language” you can get along peacefully. It’s called ‘intuitive beekeeping.’
So I’m watching through the window convinced he’s going to get a half-dozen stings. But nope. It worked!
One confused bee did fly into his ear! He just sat still and waited for her to find her way out again, then she flew off. When I asked him if he was freaked out later he said “No. She didn’t want anything to do with my ear either.” This man is unshakable. (maybe it’s the whole combat veteran thing? I guess bees are nothing compared to Afghanistan)
Here’s the hive all set up. As the bee population grows there are more boxes to put on top.
So now we have bees next to the front door.
I may never see the UPS man again.
In Corde Maria,
(featured image via Flickr user Bob Ramsey)