Two Sisters and a Hive Tool

I can proudly say, that GiGi and I made it through our month of Beekeeping 101 (and without stings, if you can believe it). It’s been a wonderful month and I am still reeling from what we have learned from this class. I think we are more than ready to put our bees in this coming Spring.

I feel so accomplished!

this is what our hive will look like
see the guard bees protecting the entrance?

Our final class was great! We got to play in the beeyard and open up several hives. We even assisted in the switching of one weaker hive to a better location. Class ended with a great chat over a honey tasting. We were able to try Nina’s Wildflower honey from the Franklin Park Conservatory, as well as Buckwheat, Orange Blossom, Blueberry, Basswood and Clover Honeys.

It was a sweet and unexpected treat!

bees on a frame

GiGi holds a Queen cage
A new Queen and her attendants

all types of honey

We have a lot to plan for before next spring!

Beekeeping can be a wonderful hobby, and I’m certain the “backyard beekeepers” are helping the bee population thrive. However, it can be quite an expense to get started. In the next 6 months we will have to save up for the hives, (we would like to start with 2 and hope to eventually make splits from those) and of course, we will have to purchase bees and a queen for each hive. Thankfully, we have made contacts with Nina and the Central Ohio Beekeepers Association (COBA, find the group on Facebook) to make that happen! We are lucky that we have already purchased our gear, the very attractive pith hats and gloves… and I can’t forget to highlight GiGi’s beautiful white jeans (also, you owe me money).

And we have a hive tool!

GiGi holds a frame of bees

In the meantime, we will volunteer at the Franklin Park Conservatory, and learn to help those hives get through the Winter.  We hope to gather as much information before our own hives go in next year!

A BIG HUGE thank you to Nina for hosting the class ad being such an amazing instructor! We really enjoyed it, and look forward to working with you again!

One more note that I forgot to add… If you are willing to help, please sign this petition to help  Save the Bees!!

Bee Happy!

xoxo Madame W

GiGi’s Book Review: A Survival Guide to Urban Beekeeping by Cam and Mr. Combover

It’s been awhile since I have had a chance to update and I can say that I am still starry-eyed about our first beekeeping class. But I won’t gush about it now since you can see all of the awesome pictures my sister took here. Instead I’ll be giving a little book review about one of my more recently acquired apiary information books.

photo courtesy beesomebody.wordpress.com

Madam W. and I first stumbled upon Cam and Mr. Combover’s blog, BeeSomebody.wordpress.com, not too long after creating our own and I have been a follower ever since.  Their writing is to the point with a lot of photos of their process and their videos are both informative and often (although I think unintentionally) hilarious. Not many men would get stung by a bee on camera and then willingly post that video for the entire digital world to see. And, hey, who doesn’t like a blog with a bee pun in its name? I know I sure do… So, I went ahead and got an early release of their book A Survival Guide to Urban Beekeeping.

courtesy of beesomebody.wordpress.com and Suzi Kemp

The first and most striking feature of the book that I noticed was the illustration work. The illustrator, Suzi Kemp’s, hit-it-and-quit-it style is reminiscent of 80’s punk art à la Raymond Pettibon. Just simple heavy line work with pops of color. But I can’t lie that I might be partial to her work since my own style of illustration shares similarities with her style. You can see more of her work here. But I must admit that, although I understand printing in grayscale is more cost effective, I wish the pages of illustration in the book could have been printed in color. I think the lack of color takes away from the aesthetics of Kemp’s work.

The content of the book itself is laid out in five easy to navigate and reader friendly chapters beginning with the basic “Learn About Bees” and ending with the final “Harvesting Your Honey” chapter. The writing is very straightforward and easy to understand, breaking each chapter down into simple steps. I personally enjoy that, every so often, you get little tidbits like “Did You Know” facts on the bottom of certain pages and meta-chapters like “Facts You Didn’t Know About Bees,” “The Fashion of Beekeeping,” and “Why Beekeepers Don’t Eat Bananas,” each little aside with it’s own quirky illustration. If you’ve ever read other books about beekeeping you will understand that it can get rather tedious to read all of the bee information endlessly, so I like that these humorous little side chapters pop up to break up the uniformity. And I really liked reading about their personal trials and tribulations that they experienced while beekeeping, such as the fact that no one explains to you that after you steal the honey from the bees they will be furious and sting you, which gives the book a much more accessible blog-style appeal. Also, considering a previous post of my own, I truly appreciated the aside chapter they wrote “Thoughts About Colony Collapse Disorder.” As stated before, it’s a very real and serious occurrence and something everyone should know is happening.

courtesy of beesomebody.wordpress.com and Suzi Kemp

This is definitely one of the more entertaining beekeeping books I have had the pleasure of reading recently (and I have read quite a few as of late, more book reviews in the future mayhaps?). Although, as the title states, A Survival Guide to Urban Beekeeping is just that- a survival guide. It’s something short and basic that you can turn to in a pinch or if you would like to explore apiculture but not get into the thoroughgoing details. I wouldn’t call it the end-all-be-all of beekeeping books, and even the writers themselves mention several times how they took beekeeping classes and studied about apiaries beforehand. So, I would say this is an easy starting point for the novice beekeeper, such as myself, but I would recommend not bypassing classes or further reading if you want to seriously consider being an apiarist. Besides, I’ve never heard anyone say that knowing too much about something that could very well kill you is a bad thing.

You can purchase your very own amazing copy of A Survival Guide to Urban Beekeeping by Cam and Mr. Combover HERE.

Looking forward to my next beekeeping class tomorrow! Check back soon!

Best wishes,

GiGi

Beekeeping 101

Our first class went well, amazing, in fact. It was so much more than either of us could have expected from a first lesson. The class was intimate, (about 10 people from all walks of life and ages) and our instructor, Nina, is a peach. Not only is she wealth of knowledge on the subject, she also breeds queens… not to mention, she’s funny as hell. Remember when I asked if we would go into the apiary today? Well, I don’t think Nina had intended to on our first lesson, but we were all eager to jump right in! I have to admit that I was a little shaky when we first approached the fenced in apiary, but I managed to cool off and get some great pictures while we learned.

Nina has offered to help us with whatever we need, including getting us started with a nuc (a half box with frames, bees and a queen). We hope she will be interested in being a kind of mentor on our journey, like our spirit  guide.

Check out what we did today, and sting-free so far!

opening the first hive, this was the more “docile” of the group

this is a 10-frame hive
there are six hives in the Franklin Park Conservatory Apiary

removing the frames to spot the queen

the best way to learn is to get right in there!

This is going to be a great month!

Love, Madame W

Today!

The day has finally come… our first Beekeeping Class with  Franklin Park Conservatory is this evening

For the last week I’ve gone from nervous and anxious, to just plain old excited! I don’t know what we can expect from our first two-hour long class, but I know that this will be an amazing month! We’ve spent the last few weeks researching anything bee-related that we can get our hands on, and I think we’ve learned a lot so far. I realize that nothing can compare to getting in there and doing it ourselves.

They won’t throw us into the apiary on the first day, will they? I can’t wait to tell you what happens after tonight!

Keep BEElieving… and wish us luck!

Love, Madam W.