Monday, September 10, 2012

Spencer Fair

This was the first year since we started beekeeping that we didn't enter honey into the fair. We hadn't extracted honey and unless you extract early, it is tough to win that blue ribbon.

As usual, the family and I volunteered to help at the Worcester County Beekeepers Association's booth. My son sold honey sticks like crazy and my daughter helped other kids roll candles. My husband and I floated around answering lots of bee questions. I thought I would share some of the most common.

How long to bees live?
Queens can live about four years. In the summer the worker bees live about six weeks. In the fall, bees emerge that are going to live all winter in the hive. These bees will die off in March.

Why do the worker bees cluster around the queen?
The queen exudes pheromones, chemicals that give information. The queen's pheromones tell the workers that she is well, laying eggs, and she's healthy. They cluster around her to get this information as well as to groom and feed her. The workers take very good care of the queen.

Do the bees know me?
No the bees don't know me. Bees don't have memories that would include a person. Generally the bees may only have me in the hive a few times in their lifetime.

Do I get stung a lot?
Nope. I rarely get stung and usually when I do, I am in someone else's bee yard. When I am in my own hives I tend to be calm and focused. I don't do things to startle the bees. Those of you who know me personally, know that I don't wear a lot of scented products so that I don't irritate the bees. Bees operate by smell as much as vision outside the hives- so staying calm (so I don't stink with sweat) and moving with purpose help to keep the bees calm.

What is my favorite part of beekeeping?
This is really hard! There is really so much to love about beekeeping. I love the feeling of calm that stays with me after being in the hives. Honey is a wonderful benefit too. But I really think I am in it for the bees. Go bees!

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