A couple of years ago, if one had asked me about the prospect of getting bees, I would have laughed, told the person they were bat shit crazy and then done something passive aggressive like de-friend them on Facebook. As you all have heard before, I was far more urban before moving to Windham, Maine. I spent my time in the cities of Boston and Cambridge. I ate what I wanted. Didn’t ask where it came from and frankly, I didn’t care. I had heard about the bee crisis but truthfully, I thought it was a myth. It was a topic of discussion among certain intellects, most of which I wanted to punch in the face. The urban me knew nothing of organic, raw, locally grown, bla bla bla. I had my head in a huge bubble. And I’ll be totally honest, at the time, I could totally get down with a trip to Wendy’s, like without even thinking twice about it. When I moved from city to country, there was no choice to be made, I had to shift my views.
Maine forces one to take a big, wide-eyed look around because driving through the surrounding towns, farmland is everywhere. Cows grace the side of the road along with horses, roaming chickens, sheep, as well as other varieties of livestock. There are farm stands everywhere and even Hannaford Supermarkets have multiple signs in the produce department, describing the featured local produce. Instead of high-end shops, there are things like Blue Seal Feed and Tractor Supply. Farming is part of life here and people do it on both the small and the large-scale. I was amazed initially at how common keeping chickens was around my neighborhood alone. People love the practice of obtaining their own fresh eggs. But the whole bee thing, blew my mind and even though I thought it was interesting, I wanted no part of it.
The man who changed it all for me, was Damian Magista of Bee Local. Amazingly, I found him and his company in my Twitter Feed. Apparently, Twitter knows when you need to know about something. It was his little jar of honey that peaked my interest along with the fact that he was from Portland, Oregon, a place I am unnaturally in love with even though I have never been. The Bee Local website makes beekeeping appear romantic and enticing, it made me want to follow for a while, just to see what it was like. Bee Local’s completely effortless approach to beekeeping makes it sound possible for average people like myself and proves that there are more rewards in it than most think. Plus, the idea of what Damian is doing, challenges everything we know and love about honey, and makes it even sweeter. I now find myself looking at labels, at colors, at textures. Farmed honey is all the same, what Bee Local produces changes depending on where it’s “grown”, producing beautiful varieties that make the palette sing. Watching Bee Local intensely has made me curious about bees, enough so that I will become a beekeeper May 20th of this year, finally taking the plunge because Damian has made me believe it’s possible.
I’m completely and utterly excited to learn about the relationship bees have with our food. I’m not even getting them primarily for the honey but to marry my flowers and vegetable plants with the perfect spouse, thousands of little bees who will forage on what they have to offer which will make them strong as well as produce the golden stuff. And I can’t wait to see what my backyard and my neighbor’s backyards taste like. I have an array of items to offer these little creatures: grapevines, apple trees, pear trees, vegetables of all sorts, lilacs, I mean, I could go on forever. I never knew there was so much beauty in the buzzing sound. Bees are powerful little guys and we need them, way more than we want to admit.
I will keep you all updated on the progress of my hive. So far, the bees are to be picked up early on May 20th and I will install them in the hive (which is essentially just dumping 10,000 bees into a box, no big deal) the same day. My wonderful hive, which I purchased from The Honey Exchange in Portland, is all set up in my backyard, fully assembled and just about ready to go. I have my handy hive tool, a great quality smoker and a fancy fashion forward (but not really) bee suit with a truly sexy veil and of course, their feeder which will get them by with sugar syrup until they become established. I may not get honey this year, but that is totally fine, I am just looking forward to having the bees around, keeping me company in my colorful backyard.