One of the goals for About An Acre, is to connect people trying to live more sustainable to others with the same goal. Through networking we are establishing options for people seeking certain things that otherwise might not be an easy find. Today I have scheduled a visit with a man named David Hutchinson who has a small apiary called Abby's Apiary. He is a completely natural, chemical-free, pesticide-free bee keeper and understands the importance of keeping the integrity of bee hives naturally resistant to today's pests and fungi.
I am terrified of bees, but part of this blog is overcoming my fears and anxieties associated with gardening, farming, and sustainable living.
Once we get to David's home, he shows us some uninhabited bee hives and explains certain ways he goes about pest control using natural means and basically just outsmarting the pest. He explains that bees produce propolis, a natural means for the keeping the hive more resistant to parasites and bacterial growth. This is a very sticky substance, and to more commercial bee keepers, this substance called propolis is a nuisance and is an undesirable trait and therefore, over the years beekeepers have selected against this trait due to the difficulty it added while working colonies; sticky hive tools, fingers, or gloves in warm weather while in cooler temperatures frames, lids, and inner covers cemented together. David, on the other hand, actually wants and allows the bees to use all natural means including the propolis to keep his hives thriving and healthy.
We walk over to his truck where there is a hive recently relocated and there are a few bees stealing the honey. I am obviously a little scared and ask how often he gets stung. He explains that bees, like any other being, when aggravated or irritated will act out. They aren't "out to get me" by any means, and if they sting you, they must think you are a big threat. The key is to approach them calmly and in a relaxed state so that they don't feel threatened by you.
I am now ready to go to an active hive. I am terrified at first but see that he is calmly (and without any protective gear) moving about the bees and pulling out honeycombs to show me what is happening in side. This is really amazing and actually very therapeutic. He goes on to explain that as a bee keeper, you don't make plans to go out and "do this or that", but that you go out and see what the bees are doing. You work around the bees and do what they will allow you to do. All in all, I left feeling that all these years I had bees all wrong. I have a greater respect for them now and am eager to learn more!
Now about the honey....
At the time of our visit I asked about his honey. Right now he has sour wood, blackberry, and wildflower. I asked if he had any "regular" flavored honey.....HA! Goes to show I have only had store bought and never been subjected to raw, unheated, varietal honey. He explains that the flavor comes from where the hives are placed. For example he has a few hives out in one man's blackberry field. The man wants the bees because they pollinate his blackberries and in turn, Abby's Apiary gets some delicious blackberry honey! Wow - so much to learn and it is so exciting!