Last year my husband decided we needed a new hobby, his idea was for us to raise bees in the back yard. Did I tell you we live in a subdivision? No.
I can honestly say I have wonderful neighbors whom are very understanding. Well then in April of 2012, we went to the Jefferson County Co-op to
purchase three hives for our coming bees later in the month. We looked over all the things that we would need and settled on deep supers, bottom boards, along with frames, wax, and inner cover and top. We took our purchases home where we could spread them out and figure out how to put them together, (Thank God for Internet,) for each item, the wonderful company from whom these items came placed a single piece of paper with a drawing of how they were to be put together. Oh by the way; I forgot to mention that when you purchase them they are all in pieces and you get the opportunity to prove your worth by figuring out how to construct them. After a few trials and errors, in which I actually put one box together backwards and another had parts upside down, I finally got the hang of how it went and got the boxes all together and then my husband and I went on with putting the frames together along with the foundation upon which our bees would build their hives from. We found three different areas in our yard and set out three 55 gallon drums upon which we set our newly built hives. In late April we went over to the Clinch Valley Beekeepers meeting place to pick up our three packages of bees. My husband was so excited he reminded me of a kid in a candy store, the person in charge of the package bees handed my husband our three boxes of bees and he absolutely glowed with pride about his new found hobby. I felt trepidation that maybe we might be getting in over our heads but decided that this was good for us and I absolutely love honey so this venture into new territory wasn’t without merit. We brought our little bees home and set out to introduce them to their new hives.
For the most part everthing went well, our bees are of a even temperment and didn’t cause much of a ruckus when we put them into their hives.
Putting them into their hives means taking out a can of syrup that they were shipped with, removing a staple that is holding the queen cage, and then
turning the box holding the bees upside down and literally shaking them out into the new hive. I got one bee caught in my shirt sleeve resulting in a
sting and another got caught in my hair from which I recieved a second sting, all the while wondering exactly how I let “HIM” talk me into this venture. Well at least I can say that he didn’t fare any better than I did, he was stung about four times on the hand, once on the leg and another on his stomach when a bee went up his shirt. HaHa, fair play and all that.
Bees don’t come with instuction manuals, so mostly it is trial and error even though there are a lot of books out on the subject you can’t say you
know it till you try raising them yourself. There is so much to raising bees sometimes I think it is amazing we have made it through our first year as
beekeepers. It is amazing some of the facts you learn about bees when you raise them. Did you know that honey is the only product made by insects
that humans actually consume. It is also the only food that never goes bad, even when it crystalizes it is still edible. Honey has been found in ancient
Egyptian tombs which was still edible. In Egypt it was used as a form of payment, kind of like how the ancient Aztecs used cacao beans. Honey was
used in ancient times for wounds and in healing, a form of antibiotic cream. The use of honey in medicine is known as apitherapy. Hippacrates, the
father of medicine actually wrote about honey and its uses. Now days my husband swears that the stings he endures when working with our bees
actually helps his problem of arthritis in his knees. It may not be an accepted practice but there are even those who turn to bee stings to actually help
with sever medical issues. Whatever the outcome bees are an amazing insect that is beneficial and worth the time in getting to be known whether thru
books and learning or from the actual raising of bees. We have a local beekeeping club in Hamblen County called the Lakeway Beekeepers association
that meets once a month at the Rose Center if anyone is interested it is every second Tuesday of the month at 7:00pm. Visitors are welcome and
questions are encouraged.
By R.L. Campbell