After a year of reading research, three beekeeping courses (first for native bees, then one each for langstroth-based and top bar-based beekeeping), countless emails and phone calls to beekeepers not savvy at using social media or even just the interwebs, and even moar reading as a refresher, some bees will be taking residence at my house in the early hours of Saturday morning.
And yes, I am wondering how I, an entrenched night owl, have once again signed up to look after creatures that literally get up at the crack of dawn. Clearly, I haven’t learnt my lesson from ex-battery hens.
A vegan beekeeper is an admittedly strange thing, but my reasons are extremely simple: rather than keeping bees for commercial purposes to rob them of their honey (the term ‘rob’ is both what beekeepers use and remarkably apt, because humans truly do rob bees—what seems to surprise people is that honey is actually bees’ food, not some delicacy they make especially for us), I’m offering them a safe, sustainable home. I’m not after honey; I’m after helping the environment. And bees are infinitely fundamental to the environment.
You’re probably aware that bees are in trouble around the world—pesticides are killing them outright, and poor commercial beekeeping practices and an opportunistic critter called the varroa mite are killing them slowly. Bees pollinate at least one of three bites of food we consume. Without them, we wouldn’t have such things as avocados, almonds, or apples. More simply: If the bees die, we die.
Blunt stuff for a Friday night/Saturday morning, but in truth I’m so excited I’m like this Kermit the Frog GIF. It’s been a bad season for bees (see above sentence re: bees are in trouble), which has made it doubly hard to locate healthy colonies to offer a home. So to have finally found a colony, and to have it moving in tomorrow, is a bit like striking gold.
I should probably forewarn you that my social media feeds (and probably this blog) will be full of bee photos in coming weeks (for some of you, that may be spam, while for others it will represent a welcome relief from a steady stream of chooken photos).
Either way, I hope to retrieve, and put into practice, some of the information I’ve tried to embed in my brain courtesy of:
- The Barefoot Beekeeper (functionally laid out, but full of useful information, this is the seminal text for top bar beekeeping, which is the sort I’m doing)
- The Rooftop Beekeeper (a beautifully designed and inspiringly pragmatic book by a female beekeeper in New York, it gave me hope that I could, as a female, manage beekeeping)
- Backyard Bees (a newly released book by a Sydney-based urban beekeeper that features lots of amateur beekeepers and some no-nonsense advice).
Wish me luck. And probably watch this space.