Monday, July 26, 2010

How It All Started

In May of this year, my husband Mark attended a 2-day bee-keeping course offered by Mississippi State University. On May 27th I wrote in my journal that he was "trying to beat the rain" -- he was attempting to clear, sow, and fertilize what became the first bee hill on our property. By that date, he'd also contacted his welder, and construction of the custom hive stands was underway.

So much has changed in just over two months! We now have 3 bee hills lush with bright green millet, and four hives thriving -- two colonies relocated from places they weren't wanted (Hives 1 & 4), and two started from "nucs" purchased from Mr. Thompson in Philadelphia, MS (2 & 3). Mark has gained knowledgeboth through experience and generous mentoring by local beekeepers. I've learned a lot because it's fascinating and Mark is *so excited* about it all he can't help share what he's learning.

The photo shows Mark checking on the bees that eventually became Hive 1. I'll write about our first experience migrating bees in a separate post, as the process may interest other newbies. The kids jokingly call his hodge-podge bee suit his "Sanford Suit" after the old "Sanford and Sons" television show. He wrapped bungee cords around the cuffs of his pants, a nylon strap around his waist, and put his hunting-season mosquito netting over his hat. Yes, that is duct tape around his shirt cuffs.

We've since invested in real gear. Plus hive boxes, hive tools, feeders, feeder patties, enough sugar to amp up an entire elementary school, eco-friendly hive bases, moving screens, entrance closers, paint, and more that I probably don't know about.

Getting started in bee-keeping isn't cheap, but it's a lot of fun. And as far as husband-wife hobbies go, it beats golf and bowling by a long shot.

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