It’s been a long time since we’ve had a bee hive. Four years, to be exact. Longtime Shelterrific fans will recall the sad chronicles of our ill-fated colony. Our lazy bees had plenty of food, but clustered too far away to retrieve it during the long, cold winter of 2008. I remember the day Chad went to pick up the box of them at the post office, with our then four month old daughter in the back seat of our hatchback Fit. Our bees may not have lasted one year, but our appreciation of them and our love of honey has only grown (along with our daughter and the size of our car!). We’ve decided to give it a try again this April, and have ordered a new hive and the necessary gear from Betterbee. One addition to our list — a kid’s size beekeepers suit from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, so Isadora can get up-close-and-personal with the bees. Other than that, our plan for installation this year is to provide them with pre-made hive frames. Last time we let them free-form it, and I think it was just too much work.
One thing on our to-do list before the bees arrive is to watch the critically-acclaimed documentary, More Than Honey. In it, filmmaker Markus Imhoof journeys around the world to meet the global community of beekeepers. As the above still shows, it not only provides new looks at our favorite insects but reminds us how dependent we are on them to maintain much of our food sources.
Stay tuned for more updates we prepare for our bees arrival!
As if we needed further evidence that beekeeping is chic, look what we found tucked into the new Williams-Sonoma catalog: Among the overpriced cookie mixes and highly specialized kitchen gadgets is an all-in-one starter beekeeping kit. Doesn’t it look gorgeous! All you need is a credit card, a plot of land (or rooftop!) where beekeeping is allowed and you’re in the honey business. It comes with three, eight-frame behive boxes, beekeepers gear and clothing, a smoker, hive tools — everything you need. Except of course, bees. What’s nice about this hive is that it is stained wood with a copper-colored aluminum peaked roof. It’s a lot prettier than most out-of the box beekeeping kits. But is that aesthetic choice worth the $500 price? We got our gear (and bees!) from BetterBee.com, where a similar kit is only about $300.
To learn more about about our previous adventures in beekeeping see this post.
Even though we don’t currently have any beehives, we are still beekeepers at heart. As soon as we can figure out a place to put a stack of the boxed honeycombs, we’re gonna set up shop. The window of opportunity is small: You have to pre-order bees and establish the hives in early spring. The past few springs have just been a little too hectic for us to get our acts together, but next year, we’ll be ready. We also think our little girl is gonna LOVE being a beekeeper.
Meanwhile, we file away stories for inspiration. Like this one from Nowness about HK Honey in Hong Kong. This urban rooftop apiary is high above one the congested city streets, and it’s run by Michael Leung. He’s working hard to introduce the concept of locally grown food to Hong Kong. Click here to read more about him, and see more photos from Virgile Simon Bertrand, at Nowness.
We’ve also heard that here in New York, swarms of homeless bees are causing trouble. They say it’s due to the warm spring. I wish we had bees to have been enjoying the mild weather!
We heard some troubling news last week. A study from Food Safety News found that most of the stuff sold as honey on our grocery store shelves has been filtered so much that it no longer contains pollen. What?! Honey without pollen? Isn’t that why we buy honey in the first place, for all those antioxidants, nutrients and unique flavors. Also, as we read on ivillage.com, “without pollen, it is impossible to trace where honey comes from and guarantee its purity.”
Ever since our foray into beekeeping (that’s one of ours, above), we’ve have made a point of always buying honey at local markets. It’s also a great souvenir to bring back from travels. We’ve stocked up in the golden stuff from Martha’s Vinyard, Maine and California. During our recent visit down South, we stopped into a Savannah Bee Company store. After taste tasting their current offerings, we settled on a bottle of Sourwood, which has a rich, nutty flavor.
The good news from Food Safety News, is that honey from Trader Joe’s contained proper amounts of pollen. Just be sure to read those labels carefully when shopping elsewhere! — Angela M.