sabato 10 maggio 2014

Beekeeping for beginners

What can I say? I love honey. My family consumes huge quantities of honey every year. But who would have ever thought that my love of honey would have spurred me to become a beekeeper? And yet, here I am enjoying the adventures of beekeeping. I’ve been documenting it for a couple of years, reading all kinds of literature and frequenting local beekeepers, but I never thought I’d really take the plunge and get my own bees.

So, I must admit that it is thanks to my determination combined with a four-month beekeeping course, that I finally decided to get my own families. My first bees arrived last week and I have been bothering them regularly, peeking into the hive to make sure they are doing all the things that a healthy family should do. Pretty soon they are going to lock me out.

And today, with the help of my supportive husband, I caught my first swarm of bees. This morning a swarm was lingering on the roof of a home just in front of the house I rent to tourists (yes, the famous Altavista Holiday Home!). I couldn’t believe that I was so lucky to find a family of bees looking around for a new home.

The procedure wasn’t quick. They didn’t want to go into my bee travel box even though I rushed to put wax frames inside so they would know it was an appropriate place for them to make a new home. So we had to ask the neighbors for help. There is the nicest man ever who lives nearby on via degli Scacciati; being a retired man and a very capable do-it-yourself kind of person, he is always there to assist me in times of need.

My ladder wasn’t tall enough to reach the roof of the neighbor’s house where the bees where grouped together. So Sandrino lent us two long ladders and helped us tie them together and then helped us tie the bee box on top. Then he lent me a really long bamboo pole that I used to push the bees into the bee box. Most of the bees went into the box right away, for others it took a little longer. By evening time they were all in the travel box so I closed it up and transferred them to my apiary.

I prepared my apiary in town, on a two acre property that belongs to my sister in law. I’m following the good advice of an organic beekeeper in Palestrina, Mauro Marini (Apicoltura Antica Praeneste), who sells wonderful organic honey made by his many honeybees. Organic beekeepers must use certified organic wax, only certified organic products for treating bee ailments and problems like the varroa mite, and annual analysis must be made on the honey and wax to make sure that the beekeeper is sticking to the rules and using and making only high quality products. Yes, my bee families are also organic and arrived with their certification and everything. Let’s just hope they make some honey!