America is full of opportunities to find a hobby that you enjoy. Baseball, card collecting, eating… if you enjoy it, there’s an organization and a competition to encourage it. With so many different ways to spend your time, a lot of interesting hobbies get lost in the crowd. Recently, one in particular has been climbing its way back up through the masses.
With all of the tragedies, political instability and changes that have been dominating the news, very little has been said about the phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, since 2006 honey bees have been abandoning their hives in droves and it was beginning to really worry scientists. Honey bees are important for both the economy and the environment, so it would be devastating if we lost them. In order to help counter the effects of CCD, scientists began trying to encourage people to take on beekeeping as it was a hobby that many people didn’t even think about. After a while, that sparked a new trend. Even New York hopped on the bandwagon and rescinded their laws against beekeeping in the city and recently different cities in Arkansas have held seminars for people to go and learn how to begin as keepers.
Even if you have limited space, it is entirely possible to become a beekeeper. The Farmer’s Almanac released a guide to getting started on their website. It is recommended that you start with two hives, but as each hive is merely a series of boxes and frames stacked vertically, it should not be hard to find room for them. You’ll also need a smoker to sedate the bees and a suit to keep from getting stung. All of these items can be a little more costly than desired, but beekeeping is a hobby that can pay off in the long run. Not only can you harvest honey from the bees, but you can also get beeswax and make a myriad of products from said beeswax.
Beekeeping is also a wonderful hobby for people who are less than sporty. You get to spend plenty of time in nature without having to run all those laps. You can make some interesting new friends in your fellow beekeepers and as far as pets go, bees are really easy to keep. You don’t have to spend more than a few minutes with them each day. Just be sure that you have a nearby water source and yes, you do actually have to feed the bees. They do eat honey but they also need a sugar-water substance that you leave at the top of their hives for them. You also have to be sure to protect the hive from harmful mites, which scientists suspect were a factor in the CCD problem to begin with (pesticides and radio frequencies were also considered as factors). This can be done by buying a simple base stand for the hive.
So after you’ve got your equipment and your location, you just need to order your package of bees and you’re all set to begin your unique adventure as a beekeeper. Packages of bees can be found relatively easy online and contain a queen bee, worker bees and drones. Be sure to study up on honey bees beforehand so you know what you are getting yourself into. They really are a fascinating species to observe.
What are you waiting for? Go find some equipment, meet some other beekeepers and start your journey! As they used to say, mind your own beeswax!