"I'm Covered in Beeeeees!"

Here's a little something to start your week off right:

And, believe it or not, there's actually a reason for this small bit of comedy...

My first time in an official beekeeping suit!
This was me on Saturday!  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I finally donned a bee suit and took a beekeeping class. I know that I've talked about getting bees for a couple of years (post #1 and post #2) but this weekend I took the steps necessary to make it happen this year.

The class was awesome. It was taught by Nathan Clarke of Mad Urban Bees - a unique beekeeping operation in Madison, WI. Nathan has been keeping bees for seven years and moved from hobbiest to entreprenuer last year. He partners with Madisonians to house his hives in backyards around the city. He cares for the bees and harvests the honey and the host families get free honey in exchange for the use of their yards. The also get the benefit of having pollinators living with them... Any gardener knows the value of that alone.

Nathan Clarke - awesome teacher, beekeeper, and entreprenuer.

Nathan sells his honey at a few local, specialty markets as well as through a honey CSA (community supported agriculture). He teaches classes because he believes that everyone should keep bees and help rebuild the bee population. He is building a cool, unique business while being an incredible steward for the earth. I was very honored to be able to learn from him and to have him as a resource.

I learned so much in this class - and I thought I'd done all the reading I needed! As Nathan says, "Ask 10 beekeepers a question and you'll get 13 different answers". As it turns out, beekeeping is a very personal pursuit and everyone has their favorite ways of doing things. However, one of the best things I learned was about how to mitigate mites organically. I was afraid, after all my reading, that I'd end up having to use chemicals to deal with these awful, pesticide-resistent parasites that destroy entire bee colonies. But, as it turns out, there are a number of chemical-free things you can do to help keep them at bay.

The last thing I did this weekend was join the local beekeeping association. Yea! I'm on the path to being a backyard beekeeper for realz!

While it's late in the season for getting bees, I'm still hopeful that I'll be able to get my hands on some to start my hive in 2013. I need to get them established in the next four weeks so the heat is on (so to speak).

Here are some photos from my class. Enjoy!

- Alex the (soon to be) Beekeeper

How the hive is assembled

How the queen is shipped.

My class, suited up and READY!

Opening the brood box to check out the bees.

How to feed the brood.

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