I’m officially in love. Indeed, I’ve fallen hard. The object of this singular, all encompassing affection? You guessed it… my bees! We just established two hives at DCH and they are too cute and too interesting to resist. For instance, did you know that honey bees’ wings stroke 11,400 times per minute? (This is what is responsible for their famous onomatopoeic “buzz”). Or, were you aware that bees communicate with one another by dancing? Sound crazy? I know! But I don’t lie. These facts are too bizarre to be fabricated.
Honey bees haven’t always been around these parts. They originally hitched it over with early European settlers and they’ve been making their honey here since. They also serve another extremely important function. Mmmmhmmm- pollination. Bees are responsible for upwards of 80 percent of the pollination that happens within our food production stystems.This is why the so named Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is terribly concerning. Bees are dying off, seemingly just disappearing, at alarming rates. While CCD’s cause is still disputed cellphones, pesticides, varroa mites have all been named as possible culprits. We could be in trouble if we don’t work to support our winged friends.
CCD is, in part, why DCH decided to begin its life as a beekeeping non-profit. Our hives have been placed in our back garden and those fuzzy legged rogues are doing a fantastic job of pollinating our plants and cranking out the honey. I’ve already had the opportunity to taste it. It was, predictably, delicious.
I find the hives weirdly engaging. More than once I’ve been caught staring soft eyed at the two small boxed bee condos on an office break. And don’t think I’m alone in this behavior. I’ve had other staff “casually” mention the hives only to, in a flash, be regaling me with their observations of our honey bees’ minutest behaviors.
Our DCH hives aren’t the only bees on the block, either. Andrew’s hives have had a great start to the season. His original Langstroth hive overwintered successfully and this spring he put in a second. He also built his own top-bar hive complete with an educational viewing window. You know what that means…
I might quit my job to become a professional bee observer.
I’m thankful to my father for inspiring this love of bees in me at a young age. I always refer to him as the family “bee whisper.” Growing up, if you needed a bee removed from your room, he was your man. His longstanding claim that apis attitudes will remain quite pleasant when honored with a conversation and a calm demeanor, has tickled my imagination for years. All I have to do is conjure up images from a Beatrix Potter story (sipping tea with a bee in a top-hat? Yes please!) and I’m ready to hold one in my hand. It helps, I suppose, that I’m not deathly allergic to their potential stings. Yet, even if I were, I find it hard to believe that I could resist their charms.
So, if you want to learn more about beekeeping stop by Farm51 sometime. You’ll probably find me staring transfixed by Andrew’s hives.