Things will be buzzing for us.

Saturday, September 11th, 2010
Our starter hive

On September 11 we attended the 2010 Philadelphia Honey Fest held at the historic Wyck House in Germantown, PA. Fran and I have been interested for some time in having our own hives and producing our own natural sweetener. Bees are environmentally friendly and help to pollinate our native plants. This event sounded like the opportunity to learn some things and get ourselves started.  And we did learn a lot, but we also learned that this was only the beginning and that we have a lot more to learn. One key thing we learned, in conjunction with shared interests with our beekeeper hosts (The Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild), is that we intend to go “treatment free” with our bees as much as possible. Readers may be surprised to learn that the so-called “natural” honey that you buy is likely no more natural than the chicken and beef that you purchase. There have been great changes in beekeeping in the last few decades, and most honey in now produced by a few large venders in this country and overseas. This has also affected the small-scale honey producers, who now feel obliged to follow suite with respect to using unnatural bees and special treatments. You may have heard of some of the new diseases that affect bees, and this is partly due to the unnatural conditions that now face “factory” bees. It’s a long and sometimes upsetting story, as bees have become just another part of Agribusiness.

We were learning about bees all day and thinking about how we would proceed. And then an amazing thing happened The Guild held their raffle, and we WON A HIVE (home-to-be for bees; we put the bees in their home at the start of spring). So now we were really committed. Since that time, I have read three books on beekeeping (and learned that that means I’m an utter novice) and have taken an all-day beekeeping course with the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association. Fran and I also attended a meeting of the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild recently, and are looking forward to arranging to purchase some local natural bees in the early spring. We also need a fair bit of additional equipment, which we are now in the process of acquiring.