Our Bee Adventure Begins

Where did this all start? I didn't grow up dreaming of an apiary. I didn't give it a whole lot of thought until one day I wondered just how doable it would be for an average person to keep bees - did you need specialized training/knowledge? How much time would it take? Would it even work in our area? I picked up the book 'Keeping Bees and Making Honey' and read through it - there was definitely a lot to learn but it was no longer this mystical giant 'what-if' anymore and seemed like yes, it would be something I could pursue in the future! Onto the backburner, since our community association said a big fat 'no' to bees in our neighborhood. "Not in my backyard!"

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Once we got the farm, my interest in beekeeping rekindled. I wanted to learn more about bees than I knew from my college entomology course, so I started picking up books on bee biology and learning what I could about them - like most things, the more you know, the more fascinating they become! I started becoming aware of the major plight of bees around the world and the myriad of troubles they face (and just how serious those troubles are for agriculture and the environment). When I brought up beekeeping with my husband he regaled me with tales and sayings from the Czech Republic about bees swarming away and impending disaster.

The next step was taking a beekeeping course at the University of Minnesota - a wonderful weekend event hosted at the U of MN bee lab. You can find more info about the courses they offer here: http://beelab.umn.edu/Education/Public_Courses/index.htm

Roman and I took the course together and it was a whirlwind of information presented by Dr. Marla Spivak (a well known entomologist and celebrated bee expert) and Gary Reuter (University beekeeper extraordinaire!) - both of whom we are really lucky to have as valuable state resources! The class was really practical, in-depth, and well done. We left a little overwhelmed but with a pile of resources and a plan.

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Bees, which make fantastic pollinators very important to any farm and especially native prairies, seemed like a perfect addition to our farm and what we are trying to do. So it was juts a matter of how to get started!

The costs of setting up a proper apiary were a bit daunting - the specialty equipment that you need to get started adds up really quickly. Since we weren't looking to make beekeeping into a commercial venture and wanted to do everything as naturally as possible (without chemical mite treatments, antibiotics in feed, and other common practices) it would be pretty unlikely our few hives would generate the funds needed to keep themselves going or to help us with the costs involved.

Then came the amazing and generous donations of everyone who supported our Kickstarter project, Bees and Trees - people who were willing to share our vision and bring bees to the Foxloft! Bees were ordered, equipment was procured, and our little apiary adventure officially began!

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