I am getting a lot of questions about why I have chosen to start keeping honey bees. People seem to be very interested in the “why” and “how” I got started, and I don’t think my About section is really satisfying the curiosity. I’d like to take a moment to explain a little bit more.
A few years ago I heard on the radio about this awful thing that was happening to our bees – Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD – and I learned how important honey bees are to human survival. Until hearing this radio show, I hadn’t realized that honey bees were such an integral part of the pollination process for much of the food we eat.
CCD was discovered in 2006. It devastated beekeepers across the world and left the agricultural industry at a significant loss. No one really knew why CCD was happening. Bees were just disappearing without a trace – entire colonies abandoned. Over the next few years a lot of research went into learning what could be the cause of CCD. Viruses, mites, and pesticides were the large contenders. Recently, new studies have come out to show that a certain pesticide could be the root cause; being sprayed upon the crops that were visited by the bees and brought back to the hive, infecting parts of the hive and therefore the entire hive, leaving the bees more and more disoriented whenever leaving the hives, to never return again.
This radio show took place a while ago when it was all still a really big mystery. They promoted a book on the show called the The Backyard Beekeeper, and so I bought it. I dabbled in the book here and there reading bits of chapters occasionally. Each Spring I kept thinking how great it would be to keep bees, that me and my husband had started a nice little garden in the backyard of our new house and how nice our garden could be at the same time as helping bring the honey bee population up. But each year passed and I never looked into it, it was just something I wished to do someday.
Then, at the start of 2012, I picked up the book again and started reading it from the beginning. I just became so fascinated with how each bee has a particular role during it’s life to play, and how each bee works very hard all for the purpose of the success of the hive. The way they communicate to one another to indicate a particularly good pollen location, how they navigate the world around them and know precisely just where to go even at different times of the day and varying weather.
Then I googled beekeeping class Detroit. It was mid-March, and I had decided I really wanted to learn more about how to start beekeeping. The first thing that popped up in the search was a Beekeepers Conference at Schoolcraft College, it was just days away. I attended the conference and was struck by how many people were there.
It was a full day of sessions with different paths you could take depending on your level and what you were interested in learning. I learned about equipment and history of beekeeping, I made notes about local suppliers for hive parts and packaged bees. But above all, I realized that I could really start a hive for minimal money and time effort and ultimately bring bees to my backyard, my community, and help increase bee population in the Detroit area.
Following the conference I placed my nuc order that included 3lbs of bees, a queen, and 5 frames already started with brood. I purchased my unassembled hive and protective gear, boardman feeder, hive tool, and smoker. That pretty much takes you up the very start of this blog when I received my equipment and began assembling, priming, and painting it, making sure I had everything ready for when I brought home my bees!