Our latest date was a unique adventure. And there was the potential for pain. My husband Kevin was not fully on board with my idea but he (although reluctantly) came along after failing to persuade someone to go in his place. Several friends and family members called me crazy. Some thought it was cool. Our adventure? We took a beekeeping class! How’s that for a unique date idea?!
Our date started early on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning. Our journey led us to a small field, quilted with tall grasses, wildflowers, trees, and bee hives. We parked our car, signed in and tried on the protective suits and gloves to ensure a comfortable fit. We placed our folding chairs under the shade of a tree and met the other daring participants. When asked to share what we were looking to learn in the class and why we were there, Kevin mentioned with a wry smile “because my wife dragged me”, in which another spouse from the other side of the group replied “me too”. Punk.
The three-hour class was divided into two parts. For the first session, we learned about the beekeeping industry and how hives work. Christi, our class instructor and local beekeeper, explained what is required to put together a hive and how to keep it functioning. We learned about the different types of bees in a hive, how the bees determine what the bee larvae will be when born (queen, drone, or worker bee), what they need to survive and beliefs as to why bees aren’t living as long as they used to. Then, we put on our beekeeping suits and gloves and headed over to the hives. There we added smoke to the hives to calm them down while we pried open the boxes.
We searched the honeycombs for larvae to see the different chambers for the queen, drone or worker bee. We could actually see newly hatching bees coming out of their chambers! We also searched for the queen in each hive. She sets the tone for the hive, and hives act differently. This became obvious when we opened each hive. Most hives just buzzed along, while one specifically was an angry hive and you could hear the difference in their buzz – it just seemed louder and faster. We took some honeycomb back to the safety of our distant shade trees. While we wrapped up the class, we sampled the fresh sweet honey straight from the honeycomb.
Afterwards, Kevin and I headed back into town and grabbed lunch where we talked about our morning. We both enjoyed the class and learned more than we expected. And in case you were wondering, neither of us, nor anyone in our class were stung. And to everyone who called me crazy – just remember that life is an adventure and sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone.
- North Dakota produces the most honey of any U.S. state.
- 80% of the world’s almonds are produced in California. Those almond crops cover over 750,000 acres and in order to produce, need millions of honeybees to pollinate the crops. So over 1/2 of the beehives in the U.S. travel to California to visit for the summer.
- There are 3 types of bees in each hive. One Queen, who can lay over 2,000 eggs a day! Drone bees which mate with the queen while in flight (perhaps they join the 1/10 mile high club?) And the worker bees live only 6-8 weeks and may provide only 1/10 of a teaspoon of honey in their lifetime!
Honey bees are very important for our food industry as they pollinate fruits, vegetables and nuts. There is a lot of great information on honey bees here if you’d like to learn more.
I’d also recommend this class to anyone interested in learning about honey bees and how they are helpful for our economy. So let us know, would you ever take a beekeeping class together?
Cost: $79 for both of us with a Groupon deal
Duration: 3 Hours