The Friday Bee Chronicles by Janice Sina
A thoughtful look at beekeeping that’s about more than bees.
Volume 1, number 3
Remember the old Sears Catalog? Some of you probably don’t but if you do, you might remember what magic was within those pages. So many choices! Styles, colors, sizes. I could use this. And that. Oh, and I want that too. That’s how I feel about the catalogs I get now for beekeeping supplies. As I paged through my first catalog last year, I was overwhelmed with the choices of hives, accessories, protective clothing, medications . . . there were so many facets to this hobby. But first things first. Without a hive, there were no bees, so I started there. I had already decided that I wanted to build my hives instead of buying pre-made. Many beekeepers had told me that you get a deeper appreciation of the workings of a hive if you do this. Besides, there was enough tom-boy in me that I liked working with hammers and nails and fresh-smelling wood. I made a list, called Kathy, my beekeeping expert out in Ohio, re-wrote my list. I skipped the on-line ordering and called directly; I wanted to talk to a real human, one who would guffaw if I had put together some wild combination of building materials, and then set me straight.
The shipment arrived in three huge boxes and I tore into it like it was Christmas morning. With plenty of hot tea in the cool basement, I laid out my materials and got to work. Almost 800 nails later, I had 10 medium supers, 80 frames, two inner covers, two outer covers, and two bottom boards assembled. And, yes, I did appreciate the workings of a hive by doing this. I got the real meaning of “bee space” and marveled at the smooth beeswax coating of the foundations. A few coats of paint and I was ready. I knew there would be more equipment to buy, more choices to make and definitely more to learn, but for now all I could do was wait for spring to chase winter away. In the meantime, I read more books, joined the Beekeeper’s Society, and found other beekeeper brains to tap into. And waited . . .
Janice Sina, former biology teacher turned veterinary assistant, observes and writes about nature from her East Haddam home. She is a contributing writer to wisewomennow.com and has written for Dog Fancy Magazine and This I Believe (thisibelieve.org).