Honey Buzz

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

— Winnie the Pooh

I went looking for a quote about honey and found all these wise words about love and life instead. And I think it applies to the bees, so let’s just go with it. Because …

Shake it like a Polaroid picture. #bees #urbanfarming #honey

You guys have a lot of great questions about bees. It’s adorable, though, because I do not know. I’m reading books and listening and paying attention but I just don’t know what you should do if you’re allergic to bees but want to keep them.

I can say that we field that question above any other when friends or neighbors ask us about our bees. “What do you do if you’re allergic” “Aren’t you worried about getting stung?” “You have kids! And Bees???”

It’s simple really – we fear what we don’t know. And for some reason we fear bees. Because they sting.

It’s a barbed wire sting and it hurts. A whole lot. We haven’t been stung yet from our hive. When the bees are out collecting nectar they don’t sting – when they perceive a threat to their hive, they do.

Oliver's holding a colony of honey bees. Like a boss.

Oliver doesn’t know what it’s like to be stung by a bee, he sees each and every bug as his personal friend.

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”

— Winnie the Pooh

Sugar water for the bees. Oliver has no fear: he has 10,000 new friends. All named "Bud". #urbanfarming #bees #localbees #honey #OllieFarms

I’m pretty excited about the honey. But I’ve been completely surprised by how taken Oliver is by this hive. We were told that each hive has a personality … I haven’t been around a lot of bees, but I like ours. There’s a mutual respect, it seems. We love them. Oliver checks on them every day – like he’s one of them, he makes sure they’re happy, active, and have enough room in their hive. He gets in their business like a mad scientist trying to solve his thesis. He just wants to know about them, he’s curious.

But more than the honey, I wanted bees because I garden. Because the flowers and trees and air quality are very important to me. We have an extra lot so we have the space and there’s a charm to it that I couldn’t resist. Urban bee farming. I wanted to be a part of that.

If you’re local to Holland, Mi; here’s the link to the forms and information on permits.

A great resource (and where we ordered our bees this year) is Don Lam. Also our neighbors from a previous house … they came to help us set up our hive and let us borrow their suit and gloves. (Thanks Andy!) One more great link is the Holland Bee Association. (Which I haven’t been to yet, but hope to catch a meeting soon.)

Now … fun facts about bees:

They do dance! – I watched a documentary on it once and went to a demonstration at the DeGraaf Nature center years ago – it’s one of the ways they communicate … their dance points out where the good pollen spots are and how to get to the flowers or fields. They warn each other, give each other updates, and pass along routes and tips through dancing. WILD!

I’m not sure of the actual process of how they turn pollen into honey – but summarizing it … it’s like a mama bird feeding her babies – they regurgitate it into the cones of the hive to store it away.

Honey is the only natural food that never goes bad.

Honey can be used in place of face wash and is good for moisturizing and cleansing all in one. (I use honey as my face wash … it’s amazing!)

We started with 10,000 bees and the queen … by the end of the summer we’ll have about 60,000 bees and the same queen. She goes on one mating trip and mates with 10 to 12 drones then comes back to the hive and never has to mate again.

Bees are very particular about their space and centimeters matter in their hives.

Nature is cool.

Bee’s cannot see the color red and you shouldn’t eat a banana before working with a hive (something about the smell alerts them to a threat or enemy).

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”

— Winnie the Pooh

They sound like a wave in the ocean, all those wings humming. A quiet thunder of complete wonder.

This is why we have bees.