Beam Me Up, Scottie!

I think bees are the ‘bee’s knees’.

I love their work ethic.

I love what they do for plants.

And I love what they do for the world.

Last November, on a chilly, breezy Sunday afternoon, I attended a basic beekeeping class sponsored by Round Rock Honey.   In the class, there were about a ten other students, with varying interests in bees and the production of honey.

Here we are, in our very attractive bee suits.

I’m reasonably sure that I saw these suits in one of the shows from the original,  Star Trek series.

It’s fascinating to see the bees in their hive and the accompanying honey stores.

It was interesting to watch the bees actually calm down with the introduction of smoke–it really works!  (Though to be fair, it was very cold and windy that day, so that might have played a role in their lethargy of movement.)

I’m now in the process of ordering bees (yes, you can do that!), to place in my new bee hives that my nice husband built for me.

My interest in beekeeping stems from the invasion of my Eastern Screech Owl house by a little swarm of honeybees last May.  The day after the two owlets left the house for good, I noticed  a few bees buzzing about the entrance hole.  Within two days, there was a bona fide swarm in the owl house.    I knew that I didn’t want the bees exterminated, so I Googled beekeepers in/near Austin and hired Brandon Fehrencamp of Eastside Honey Co. to safely remove the hive without killing the bees.  The bees were in the owl house for about three days and when Brandon opened the owl house, I was amazed to see how much honeycomb was built in that short period of time.  After he safely vacuumed the bees into another container to relocated them to new hives, I extracted about two tablespoons of honey which I shared with neighbors.

I decided that it would be interesting to someday build some hives (I’m allowed two in the city limits of Austin, with some restrictions) and tend bees. I figured beekeeping would be a good empty-nest project. But, for my birthday last fall, my husband built a set of hives for me.  (Most women get jewelry, flowers or an extravagant dinner at an elegant restaurant.  Me?  I get bee hives.)

I prefer the bee hives!

The hives are Warre type hives built from untreated cedar.

The bee houses were supposed to be a surprise, but I figured out what he was building, especially after he nearly cut his finger off and we had to spend a Sunday afternoon in a local ER.  Sigh.

The queen and her workers won’t arrive until April, so we’ll finish the work on the frames (where the honey is stored) and continue our study of home beekeeping.

If you’re interested in learning more about bees, check out BeeWeaver Apiaries and Urban Beekeeping in Austin, Texas.

Live long and prosper, little bees.

12 thoughts on “Beam Me Up, Scottie!

  1. Great post Tina! I’m the same way, no fancy stuff for anniversaries, birthdays. A special plant, new wheelbarrow, tools, are all just fine. I was laughing the whole way through except the part about the ER. Sounds like he’s okay now though.

    I’ll look forward to hearing about your harvest of honey.

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  2. Ignorance, mostly. My husband read online, this ‘n that, and it seemed (to him, anyway) that the Warre hive was the more prevalent. He committed to a design (he’s the woodworker, not I) and once we (me, actually) researched a bit more, I realize we might have made a mistake. I’ve been in contact with the nice BeeWeaver folks and they think the hive(s) will work out fine, although Steven is going to re-build the bottom compartment to make it deeper than it currently is. I’m going to order only one package for this year (need to get that done and soon) and if it goes well this year, I’ll order another next year.

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  3. Tina, what a sweet topic! I bet honey fresh from the hive is wonderful. Bee keeping sounds like a very interesting hobby that dovetails nicely with gardening. I’ll look forward to hearing more.

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  4. Yes, it does go with gardening well and for me is an adjunct to my love of plants and their pollinators. I’m nervous though about tending to these live critters–don’t want to mess that up. Honey from the hive is good–I’m not a big honey fan, but it’s interesting that it can taste different, depending upon the time of year and the plants that the bees visited.

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  5. Tina: You are so many steps ahead of me. I have lots of plants just to attract/feed bees, and always make sure to let some winter flowering veg go to bloom just for those cold weather workers, but building hives and ordering your own bees! Well, that is so industrious of you – a LOT like the little bees we both respect so much. I’ll be interested in hearing more about your beekeeping (and will be running back through the archives to read more about your owl boxes!).

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    • I’m very new to this and will take it slowly. We have to rebuild the bottom compartment before April, so we’ve already screwed up a little. Beekeeping is a very old avocation, so there’s lots of information available. I’ve never written about my owls/house as my blog is relatively new. Sadly, I haven’t seen any activity this winter. My husband built another house for a neighbor down the street and I think she has “my” owl. (Sniff, sniff–gee, Steven, there’s such a thing as being too generous!) I’ve loved them these past two years though! Beautiful and fascinating to observe and the owlets have to be the cutest things ever!!! We had 4 owlets two years ago and two last year. We had to put up another house this past fall because the original house was damaged when the beekeeper removed the bees. Thanks for reading and hopefully, I’ll be able to post about bees and owls later in the year!

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  6. Congrats on the pretty hives. I smiled at your last comment, about your neighbor getting “your” owl. We haven’t seen an owl this year either (after two years of owls), and I keep asking my DG, Where’s my owl?! (He made the owl box for me, so I figure it comes with an owl guarantee.)

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  7. Thanks. They are pretty, aren’t they? However, if they don’t finish themselves soon, I won’t be able to get any little bees, so they better get crackin’. Interesting that you haven’t had any owl activity either. I wonder if the drought play some havoc on those a bit higher in the food chain, although I have seen a Great Horned Owl in this neighborhood and there seem to be plenty of hawks during the day. On a brighter note, I think I heard the signature trill of a male Eastern Screech in the wee hours this morning. I’m fairly sure that I wasn’t dreaming, but not positive. I hope that I wasn’t dreaming and that he’s letting his gal know there’s a cozy place to raise a family.

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    • I’m disappointed too that my house is owl-less this year. I just loved observing them these past two years–their courtship, parenthood and the little owlets once they make their appearance. Maybe next year.

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