Today I went to a free, public seminar at the West Terre Haute branch of the Vigo County Public Library. This diminutive building was the setting for the kitzchy (how DO you spell that word?), monthly meetings they call "Coffee Thursday", complete with coffee and cookies. The wife and kids tagged along, because they thought they might do some school whilst I was in my meeting. However, never having been to that particular branch, we didn't realize that this would be near impossible. The meeting took place right out in the open and there isn't any other space or rooms... so there was talking and noise. Remember, I used the word "diminutive". Not much school got done there.
The seminar was on beekeeping. The speakers were an older couple that have been beekeepers for two years. They had 12 hives, but this past summer, a flock of barn swallows ate the bees of 6 1/2 of their hives as they left the hive to forage. Bummer.
I can't say that I learned a whole lot more than I already knew about bees. Oh, some little tidbits and facts I learned, but not too much more that was useful and helpful. One or two bits of info, is all. But it was still fun and entertaining, sitting there with a group of old women and one mom with her infant and young daughter.
I went to this "Coffee Thursday" because I do want to try my hand at beekeeping some day. Papaw did it when I was a kid, and I use honey in my bread baking, and in sweetening tea, etc. We also put it on cereal, etc.
It's very healthy for you you, honey is. If you buy honey produced within 50 miles of where you live, it'll help your allergies a lot. It's a natural antiseptic and can help heal wounds. It's just an amazing thing. Honeybees weren't native to North America and had to be imported to pollinate fruit trees brought from Europe. The first captive hives came to America in 1640.
A bee may travel as far as 3 miles from home to collect nectar and pollen. Each bee only produces 1/12 teaspoon of honey in it's short 40 (or so) day life. And, a bee could fly around the world on two tablespoons of honey! Isn't that just amazing?! The average hive, at the height of the honey season, may contain 60 to 80 thousand bees, with upwards of 100,000 not being impossible. A hive usually loses some members during the winter and starts the nectar season with somewhere in the neighborhood of only 40,000 bees. A queen can lay up to 1,500 eggs a day, lives for up to five years, mates with up to 8 males, on one nuptial flight, and, because of her size and job of egg laying, does absolutely nothing for herself. She is fed, cleaned, cared for, and her waste removed by attendant nurse bees.
Anyway, I may try to find a mentor next Spring to show me the ropes and give me the ins and outs of beekeeping, first-hand.
As a point of interest, I usually buy a 5# jar of unpasteurized honey for $14.