Our first beekeeping class was a bit overwhelming. I was first shocked that the classes were going to be two and a half hours long. I wondered what on Earth can the instructor talk about for two and a half hours every Wednesday for 6 weeks? Well, apparently a lot. The first thing he told us is if we had ordered any bees, to cancel that order. It was VITAL that we only get our bees from a beekeeper that is within 10 miles of our location. Well… I gotta say we already ordered the bees from a very reputable place, and I certainly wasn’t going to cancel it. The instructor felt so strongly that we get only very local bees because they were best acclimated to the area and would have a better chance of survival. This of course makes sense and I agree, but no one in my neighborhood has bees and I am a bit hesitant to really put myself out there to the beekeeping community. Rachael and I have been meeting beekeepers and have attended beekeeping meetings, but are not quite ready to commit to a group just yet. Don’t get me wrong on this though. The beekeeping clubs are a wonderful source of information and they really do want to help guide new beekeepers. I would never discourage anyone from joining a beekeeping community or club. That being said, I think we will pick our club later.

Our instructor, Serge then went on to give us a very detailed lesson on the birds and the bees, minus the birds. He described how the colony is a super organism and must be regarded as a basic living unit. Individual colonies may contain anywhere from a few thousand individuals to as many as 50,000.

Each hive consists of worker bees, drones, and the queen.

Worker bees are all female, born from fertilized eggs, and live any where from four to six weeks. Depending on their age they perform different tasks. The first few weeks of their life is spent inside the hive. Between three and ten days old they are typically producing royal jelly that is fed to the larvae and the queen. Between five and fifteen days old they produce beeswax. After that they receive nectar from foragers.

The drones are male bees that are born from unfertilized eggs. Pretty much the only thing they do is carry some of the genetic material of their mother by mating with young queens. Bad news for the drones…they die shortly after they mate with a queen. Bummer. More bad news… the worker bees reject or kill the drones after the swarming season. That seems pretty harsh, but they only live for a few weeks anyway.

Then there is the Queen! All Hail The Queen! Her main job is to fly out to where there are a nice group of drones, have a few dates, smoochy smoochy, and fly back to the hive ready to lay eggs and produce pheromones. A queen can produce as many as 2000 eggs per day. Meaning that every Mothers Day is spent opening a lot of cards her kids made.

Our instructor, Serge, went on to describe the anatomy of the bees, as well as the different types of hives that bees love. By the end of class I had learned a lot and realized I knew nothing about bees. The two and a half hours flew by and I loved every minute of it. I would strongly suggest to anyone who wanted to become a beekeeper to take a class. There is so much to learn and so much you never would have thought of. All this from just the first class. We still have five more to go!


Honey Cookies
Pollination Poster by Claire Jones

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