I keep bees because I wanted to keep chickens. I read up on what one must do in Atlanta to keep chickens - how they had to be housed a certain distance from your neighbor's house, what you needed to do to leave them for a while to go out of town, what to do with the waste they create. But my children who live here said they would not be chicken-sitters when I went out of town; I couldn't quite meet the regs when it came to distance from my neighbors, and I didn't want to deal with chicken ****.
I was driving one Saturday morning, listening to the Walter Reeves show on the radio and he had a beekeeper for a guest. She was talking about the joys of beekeeping and announced that there were three upcoming short courses in the Atlanta area. My ears perked up and I listened to her every word! The first course was on a weekend I couldn't go and in a place way south of Atlanta. The second course was on another weekend when I already had commitments and was also in a location pretty far away. The third course was offered by the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers at the Chattahoochee Nature Center on the only Saturday I was available.
I pulled over to the side of the road, called the number she had given for registration, and signed up. Bees are legal all over the state of Georgia; they don't need bee-sitters when you go out of town; and bees take care of their own tiny, tiny bodily waste products.
I went to the course; fell in love; came home and ordered bees and equipment. And that's the story.
That's why I started keeping bees but not why I keep bees.
I think I need to change the answer to that frequently asked question.
I keep bees because bees are fascinating in so many ways. Among them:
- Bees live in a society that runs democratically and well. With the help of a thoughtful, careful beekeeper, they can thrive in a man made hive box.
- Working the bees requires moving slowly, something I rarely do in the rest of my life, and feels zen-like in the slow motion of inspecting the hive - the bees bring me serenity and peace
- Working the bees requires respect for the bees and the hive to work the bees well
- I love the miracle of the reproduction of the hive -
- they can make a new queen if they need to;
- they create males if they need them (and get rid of them in the fall when they don't need them!);
- the hive itself reproduces the community as a whole in the process of swarming
- Honey is the only food consumed by humans that is created by insects and it is such a delectable miracle!
- The taste of honey varies with the flowers from which the bees gather the nectar, creating a wine-tasting like experience when tasting various honeys
- Bees are soft furry creatures and when they walk on my hands, I am intrigued by their tiny bodies
- Bees use their bodies in so many ways -
- they create wax for the honey comb from their abdomen;
- they pass nectar from bee to bee with their proboscis,
- they use their wings (among other things) for
- hive ventilation,
- drying the nectar to create honey,
- flying to flowers and back to the hive,
- they communicate with each other in the pitch dark of the hive through dancing and sharing