Treatment-free beekeeping…

Earlier this morning, I received the official confirmation of my honeybee purchase. I’d received the automated response after placing my order, so it was nice to hear directly from the beekeeper letting me know that they’d contact me when my bee packages were ready to be shipped.

I’m excited about my honeybees but there’s a hint of nervousness too. It’s a new venture after all, and I’m bound to make some mistakes but I realize that’s fine. Part of my apprehension is that many of my views about “bee management” isn’t what’s normally taught in beekeeping circles.

I pretty much want to let the honeybees do their thing, without too much intervention from myself. Normally that doesn’t bother me, since I really don’t care what people think when I’ve made up my mind.  However since I’m “new” to beekeeping I do feel at a slight disadvantage since I have no experience as a beekeeper. As a child, one of my favorite gifts that I received was a book on bees. My parents knew about my love of bees, and provided me with a book on that topic. I still have that book. Throughout the years, my love for bees have increased. However reading, is still not the same thing as being a beekeeper. I’m sure, as I progress with beekeeping some of my views will change, but I honestly don’t think I’ll ever medicate my honeybees. Also, I’m positive my focus won’t be honey production. It’s not why I’m finally getting my bees.

Do we really need to use chemicals to treat honeybees?

Several years ago, I learned about the treatments used on honeybees and  I questioned the medications used to eliminate parasites.  After all honeybees are insects. I can’t help but think that treating the unwanted bugs with a variety of chemicals might have a negative impact on the honeybees. So years before I planned on acquiring bees, I knew that I needed to look for alternative methods.

Part of my research involved venturing online and looking for others that questioned the traditional methods used with honeybees. A few years ago, I stumbled upon Craig Yerdon’s, Organically Managed Beekeeping site. I enjoyed his videos and was disappointed when he went silent. I’m hoping he starts his podcasts again, since I found them incredibly informative.It cleared up some of the cobwebs I had about beekeeping. He’s local! If he ever offers a course at his place I’d definitely make the trek to take his class.

Michael Bush: Treatment free beekeeping

Organic Beekeepers is another online discovery. It’s a  wonderful yahoo group that I stumbled upon about three or four years ago. I believe the host is Dee Lusby, who also practices treatment free beekeeping. Michael Bush, another treatment-free, beekeeper is also part of this awesome yahoo group. I’m thrilled that there are options available for those who want to try treatment-free beekeeping.

I do wish that I could find a local beekeeping group that used the treatment-free approach. I’m hoping that a few members of the Central Maryland Beekeeper’s Association, incorporate this method with their own hives.


Adventures in Beekeeping: Bee Preparation

Yesterday was a busy day, for this soon to be beekeeper.

I exchanged several emails with the president of Central Maryland Beekeepers Association, Roger Williams. He did such a great job of taking the time to answer my questions in long/detailed emails that by the time I chatted with one of the potential mentors that agreed to help newbies, I didn’t have too many questions left to ask! However, my bee mentor did a wonderful job giving me some helpful information and clearing up some of my anxiety about purchasing hives. Thanks so much you two! Thanks to Garden Diaries, my local bee mentor, I’ve decided to go with one of the preassembled Langstroth hive. I’ll purchase it from a local beekeeper.

Yesterday my daughter, our dog, and I spent most of our day outside. The weather was gorgeous. Which made perfect weather for playing and strolling around our property.

Tilled garden
Part of our tilled garden


I checked on the recently tilled garden

Collard plants
Collard plants


And was happy to see that the collards are coming along nicely.

One of our strawberry plants
A few of our strawberry plants


We also have a row of strawberry plants. The thing about strawberries is you have to pick them as soon as they start turning pink. If you wait the birds will eat them.

Our Shih Tzu: Mr. Bentley
Our Shih Tzu: Mr. Bentley


And then Mr. Bentley and I made a trek near our woods to check out the area where I’ll be putting the beehives. My daughter was too engrossed in her blacktop chalk art to join our adventure.

Adding more honeybee friendly plants

I still have a lot of planting to do, and later this week I’ll be heading back to the nursery to purchase more bee friendly plants. I know that bees can travel long distance looking for nectar, but if I can… I’ll reduce some of their travel time by making some of their favorite plants readily available in our yard. I don’t have to purchase too many plants, since our yard is already bee-friendly. I adore bees and over the years, I’ve added numerous plants to attract them to our location. Did you know that honeybees make several trips to the hive each day since they can’t carry all that nectar/pollen in one trip?

I’ve already planted bee friendly wild flowers close to the woods and I’m planning to plant additional flowers close to the hives. There’s a water source close by the hive so they won’t have far to go to get their drink of water.

Enticing the honeybees; discouraging pests

I’ve decided at the base of the beehive(s) I most likely will sprinkle the area with diatomaceous earth to discourage ants from trying to visit the hive.  Or I might just use cinnamon, since I know ants detest the stuff. We have large and small ants in our area. I adore ants, but I don’t want them to take over the beehive so I need to be proactive. Also, to make the new hive more “honeybee friendly” I’m also thinking of spraying the hive with lemongrass essential oil, honeybees love the smell and perhaps that will help in making their new hive feel like “home”. One of the benefits of being an aromatherapist is that I have plenty of essential oils on hand that can be used for numerous things.

Holistic approach to beekeeping

Additionally, this season I’ll be experimenting with various aromatherapy blends to deter the various pests that can plague honeybees. Although not the same thing, I’ve used a variety of herbs/aromatherapy blends on our furbabies and various critters that inhabit our yard with much success.


Beekeeping: Informative videos for the new beekeeper

Say hello to one of the newest members of the Central Maryland Beekeepers Association.

This morning, I paid my fee and joined the association. I also requested a mentor to help guide me through the newbie process. Bees, ants and spiders are some of my favorite insects so you know I’m counting down the days until I receive my honeybees! I feel there’s so much to do before my girls arrive.

Langstroth beehive illustration
Langstroth beehive illustration

Currently I’m trying to decide what beehive I should purchase. Being crafty, I do want to make it myself… they’re quite a few patterns/plans available for those wanting to do that and I’m quite handy with woodworking tools but I think I’ll purchase my first hive. I most likely will purchase the traditional Langstroth beehive.

Diagram of a beehive
Diagram of a beehive

Eventually, if I add more hives, I’ll make my own.

Over the years, I’ve watched numerous videos related to beekeeping and have come to recognize some of the respected bee experts in the field. So while I haven’t had my own bees, I kept my finger on the pulse of this buzzing community. 😉

Earlier today, I stumbled upon a few informative videos that are geared towards a new beekeeper.  The first video is focused on installing your beehive. I’ve seen numerous videos about bees, so I’m not new to watching bee installation videos. I never was a fan of shaking bees out of their temporary home to place them in their new hive. I wasn’t afraid of them possibly getting angry…

Azure B., LLC: Installing a three pound package of bees

I was mainly looking for a gentler approach since I wanted to minimize the chances of hurting the honeybees and this video shows that! What’s interesting is that I’d thought of doing something similar with my new honeybees so it’s nice to see an established beekeeper already incorporating this when they are moving them to their new home.


Azure B., LLC: Where to place my beehive(s)?

I really liked seeing a young child involved with beekeeping, such a nice change since I see many kids (an adults too) parked on a chair with their heads buried in a mobile device, on the computer, or watching television!

And added bonus is Azure B., LLC is located in Maryland.

I enjoyed reading Azure’s about page…

as community members, we connect with others on the same path and find ways to make it cheaper and easier for all of us to do better things for everyone.

as capitalists, we buy products and services wrought only from honorable intentions.

as business owners, we reclaim old fashioned values. We cater to our clients and feel blessed every day for their interest and confidence. We work to provide you with exceptional quality, value and service so you keep coming back.

as contributors, we affect change. It’s pretty righteous stuff!

Marbury, Maryland is about two hours away from our location so it won’t be a quick trip for us… However, my daughter and I will eventually make a trip to check out their business and offer helping hands to help them with beekeeping activities. I’m looking forward to the experience.


Too cold for honeybees

It appears it’s too cold to get honeybees, at least at the place where I ordered mine. Those who ordered early will have to wait a bit longer. But this shouldn’t affect me since I’m in the late shipment. I don’t expect my honeybees until early May.

Here in Maryland, it’s still a bit cool and on some nights the temperature has dropped down to in the 20’s F. Since the bees are shipped in from the South, where it’s a bit warmer, extra steps would have been needed to make sure my girls survived our unpredictable nights. You know what? I’m so glad that designing costumes for the Passion Play prevented me from getting them locally. Now that I think about it… I wonder if the honeybee shipments from the local beekeeper are delayed also?

I’m still apprehensive about having ordered my honeybees online, but the site has received excellent reviews so I just need to get over picking up my honeybees from my local post office.

I can’t wait to post pictures of my girls in their new digs. My main reason for purchasing the honeybees is for pollination. I have no plans of fooling around with their beehive for quite a while. I’m going to let them do their thing and I’ll make sure I plant flowers that they’ll just have to visit.

Honeybees in May

HoneybeeInstead of getting my honeybees local, I’ve opted to purchase them online mainly because I won’t be ready for them when April comes around. I’m a bit disappointed but I’m happy that I’ll still be able to get my bees this year.

The time I’m an “official bee owner” will only be delayed by one month, so that’s not bad at all. By the time May arrives, I’ll have finally settled on a nice suitable home for the honeybees. Instead of three pounds of bees, I’m seriously thinking about getting six pounds, which will be enough for two beehives.

Honey isn’t the reason I want the bees, I’m getting them for their awesome pollination skills. Last year, we had nice sized produce from our garden. This year, hopefully we’ll have larger produce with the help of the honeybees. Since I have over a month to prepare I’ll be creating another flower garden right near the bees home. Did you know that bees can travel up to 60 miles per day? They’re also fly around 15 miles per hour.

I’ve always been fascinated with honeybees. I don’t view them as pests. Honeybees are amazing pollinators and many of the produce we eat wouldn’t be around without their assistance.


Photo Source: Geocaching

My sodium hydroxide is here, and honeybees are coming this spring….

Well my sodium hydroxide (aka lye) arrived  yesterday. Yippee!!  My daughter and  will be making soap either tomorrow or the following day.

Along with some dependable recipes I created years ago, I’m experimenting with a few new recipes which use a variety of herbs/essential oils.  After some tweaks I’m sure I’ll introduce them into my natural skin care product line. Yesterday I checked the shed to make sure I had all my soapmaking supplies; my solid oils (coconut, jojoba, cocoa butter, and palm oil) pots, and immersion blender, are ready to be used. I can’t wait to make some homemade soap since most of the store bought soap would fall under my definition of ‘laundry bars’. They aren’t that conditioning, and filled with a lot of unnecessary ingredients that the body really doesn’t need.

Honeybees are fascinating creatures!


Also, after dragging my feet for several years… I’m finally placing my order for Honeybees! I’ve always been fascinated by these critters. What’s held me off, was my involvement in other things, but now I’m ready to welcome them into our backyard. Here in Maryland,  you have to register your bee colony, and so my paperwork will be sent after the Thanksgiving holiday.

We’ll be sure to post pictures of our soapmaking adventures, and when spring rolls around (Lord willing) I’ll post pictures of the honeybees set up on our property. Their hive will be set up in our woods.