Our family uses about 3 to 4 gallons of honey a year. We like honey, especially the raw version. We prefer local, but around here, I could never afford to buy it at roughly $10/pint, so I am forced to settle for the raw honey from our co-op which is more affordable (around $30/gal). Nonetheless, we always keep our eye out for a deal on honey. Because of the prices, and because it went along with this healthy-lifestyle, natural-sweetener, self-sufficiency direction we have been heading, S decided several years ago that he was going to become a beekeeper. Then we priced out everything. YIKES! It didn’t take us long to realize it would cost several thousand dollars just to get started. We decided the wiser decision would be to plan to start bees when we move to Red Gate, when we hope to have a little extra cash after the sale of this house. In the mean time, if the right deal (aka a GREAT deal) came along, we would consider starting sooner.
This weekend, the right deal came along.
We are now the proud owners of a full bee-keeper set-up. I was perusing Craigslist again (maybe I should stop doing that?) and saw an ad for a bee-keeper set. It included 5 hives, 3 of which were active, a 4-tray honey extractor, a full beekeeper coverall, 2 protective hats, protective gloves, all the filter and strainer equipment, 6 supers (where the honey comb is actually built and collected from), bee feeders, extra jars, and even a sample jar of honey from this past summer. And it was for an incredible, too-good-to-be-true, steal of a deal! S decided to call and ask a few questions. Turns out the guy bought almost all the equipment new about 4 years ago, he is retiring, and he and his wife are selling out, they are going to use the money to buy a big fifth-wheel camper, and they are going to join a Christian disaster relief mission group. In his ad, he had said he would not sell the stuff piecewise, and after S talked to him, he explained the reasoning was that he wanted to help a newbie get started.
So, he and S instantly hit if off. We actually had a lot in common, and the guy was more than willing to answer any questions we had. After a night to think about it and pray for wisdom, S actually felt convicted that he would, in essence, be supporting ministry work by buying the equipment. We went out to take a look the next day, and S paid on the spot. Now, our garage is full of bee-keeping equipment (this shows less than half of it, not counting the actual hives):
The bees were sealed up and delivered after dark that night. While S was helping unload them (sans any protective gear, of course), an escapee flew up his sleeve and initiated him into bee-keeping.
The only reasonably sunny location we had was in our pasture, and S feared the donkey or buck (particularly the buck) would attempt to tear into a hive for the honey. So, before he released the bees, he got up early the next morning, and constructed a fence around the hives to deter any curious livestock. After thoroughly agitating the bees with the drastically different environment, temperatures, and the pounding of T-posts to install the fence just outside their hives, the bees were all abuzz. Having learned his lesson the night before, S smartly decided to put on at least a protective cap before releasing the bees from their hives.
So, we are bee-keepers. We have no shortage of bees zipping around our property. It’s winter now, and the hives have already been winterized. But as soon as the weather warms up next year, we are hoping to add a couple swarms to our empty hives, and, if we wind up even more blessed, then we will have no shortage of our own honey! Perhaps we’ll even have enough to sell. Hard to say since our warm, honey-flow season is so short. Guess it’s time to invest in some good honey recipe books.