Less Noise, More Green: Bee School

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bee School

Beekeeping, URI Master Gardener
Bee wings always remind me of stained glass.

Last week, I completed a beginner's beekeeping class taught by the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association. One of the Master Gardener projects I volunteer at, an Edible Forest Garden located in Roger Williams Park in Providence, won a hive and nuc of bees from Whole Foods Market last summer. Part of the prize was lessons and I was lucky enough to be one of the people to go through the class for the project. The project leader is in the process of finalizing the location of the hive and other details before we receive the nuc, which should be in April.

 Beekeeping URI Master Gardener

I am very excited to start working with these fascinating creatures but if this class taught me anything, it is I have a lot  to learn and I think beekeeping is all about learning through experience. Thankfully there will be several of us learning together!

Beekeeping, URI Master Gardener
Look at all that pollen!

I have been interested in beekeeping for a long and time but have had reservations about getting my own hive. Working with the Edible Forest Garden bees will help me decide if I want to order my own colony.

Beekeeping, URI Master Gardener

Beekeeping today is not for the faint of heart. The odds are stacked against a colony of bees surviving a winter. Even experienced beekeepers are losing hives. Today's beekeeper must be vigilant about checking for mites and other pests and diseases. They must know when the hive is in need of food and how to supply it. Is the colony getting ready to swarm? Has the hive lost their queen?

Beekeeping, URI Master Gardener

I have no fear of being stung. I hope I never have to deal with the results of some of the diseases bees can get, however. I don't know how I would deal with losing a colony I have worked with for months. I guess I'm going to find out!

Beekeeping, URI Master Gardener

Bees are organized and methodical and quite brutal. If you cannot perform your job, you are of no use to the hive. This is true for drone, worker bee or queen. The queen can lay over two million eggs in her lifetime, but the minute she starts to weaken, the workers start creating a new queen. Once she emerges from her cell, the daughter will attach the old queen and they will fight to the death. The loser's body is then dragged to the entrance of the hive and ejected. It's tough to be queen bee!

Adding beekeeping to my list of homesteading skills I know will be rewarding and intimidating. I think I'm going to be attending a lot of RIBA meetings!

I'll keep you informed about how it's going.


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