When I was a kid, I was afraid of bees. Aside from the odd sting from playing outside and getting one caught in my sandal, they seemed to follow me at picnics or outdoor gatherings which collect the kind of sugary drinks they find irresistible. They never really came after me to attack, just followed me around and landed on me, infringing on my personal bubble.
In little kid fashion, I’d throw up my hands and run away from them, shrieking. At one of my father’s work picnics, I kicked up so much commotion running in circles to escape them, that he yelled at me to stand still, confident that my panic was what was egging them on. I obeyed, standing in sullen stillness with my fists clenched at my sides. One by one, honeybees landed on my arms and legs as I stood there whimpering, watching them crawl nonchalantly along my bare skin. My dad just blinked, watching for a few minutes, then finally said, “Okay. You can do what you need to to get away from them.”
In that moment of trembling fearful stillness, I remember a small spark of awe at having such scary things touching me, but not hurting me. I hadn’t been stung. Since then I’ve had a growing fascination with honeybees. Sometimes I daydream about keeping a little farm of bees and sheep when I retire someday.
With the recent plight of the honeybee, local ordinances are beginning to relax their restrictions on backyard beekeeping. I’m seriously considering taking up the hobby here in a couple years.
I’m still not keen to be stung. I wouldn’t call it fear, so much as a very very healthy respect for their stingers. So I, of course, want to make sure that if I do go down this path that I have the kind of equipment and setup to minimize an antagonistic relationship between me and the fuzz balls. To this end I’ve been researching the equipment and the best breed of bees for my region, as well as what I can do to keep them mite-free so my hive doesn’t collapse.
I found the breed called Indiana Leg Chewer, which has been developed to be resistant to the mites and can survive the winters of my region without stress. The equipment looks pretty basic. It doesn’t seem to have changed much in hundreds of years. I’m reticent on the idea of breaking the hive open to retrieve the honey. I’ll end up killing some bees in the process and even with protection, there’s a good chance I’ll get stung.
So I considered keeping a hive, but never opening it to collect honey. Just minimize the stress on both of us. Then again, that sort of takes some of the fun from keeping bees in the first place, doesn’t it?
Then I saw an IndieGoGo campaign on a new hive system. Now this I can do.
This system looks ideal for my level of interest. It’s probably still a few years out before I try keeping a hive, but it’s good to know that there’s a system out there which fits my needs when I do.