It’s Only 20,002 Bees. What Could Go Wrong?

I hear it’s common to have crave strange foods and reorganize every closet in your house when a person is pregnant. Yep, I have been doing those things, but mainly when I am pregnant I want more animals.

If not for B, who likes to remind me that I had one dog when we first met, I think I might already have been featured on one of those reality shows about animal hoarders. I would be the one with features blurred, skittering off the property by horseback and surrounded by a dog pack, crying out in anguish over all those less mobile species I would be leaving behind. Rationally I understand that acquiring more labor intensive mouths to feed and care for just before giving birth to the ultimate variety of labor intensive mouth to feed and care for is not a good idea. But did you know that there are miniature cows? Seriously. Who can resist?!

B, that’s who. After a chat with the 4H cow lady at a harvest festival in the fall, I was sizing up our Redwood tree paddock for the modifications needed for a mama mini cow and her offspring. B, however, thought that daily milking and the eventual slaughtering of 700 pound animals might be beyond our capabilities as urban homesteaders with full time work, family commitments and a newborn human on the way. I admit this did ring somewhat true… but only after B gave a lukewarm thumbs up to starting bee hives this year. Bees! In April I will bring home 2 boxes with round about 10,000 worker bees and one queen each.

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Wouldn’t that critter above be even more lovely if there was a chance she was about to return home to one of my very own cozy hives? Indeed!

I have been obsessively researching this new hobby and still feel rather unprepared. Apparently even very good and experienced beekeepers can meet with complete failure, sometimes for no clear reason- hives that bees just abandon or mysterious sudden die offs. But the rewards are so tempting: jars upon jars of honey, better pollination of our garden, beeswax galore, and the chance to observe some bizarre and fascinating insect action. Did you know that bees dance to tell one another where the best foraging spots are, adapting the choreography to account for time elapsed in order to keep the map properly oriented to the sun’s position in the sky? How tremendous is that?? This weekend I will attend an intro to beekeeping class at a place called Beekind in Sebastopol. I will be making my first foray into the purchasing of bee housing and gear, including attempting to try on beekeeper suits 9 months pregnant. Such timing. I can’t wait!

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