Monday, November 10, 2008

I was on the radio

design of festival button saying I am a Maryland BeekeeperI'm not very good at being a secret beekeeper, despite my plunge into silence here over the past few months.

You see, sometime in April (I think) I guiltily called into a Bee Association meeting via static-filled conference call (instead of taking the time to drive over there). Guilt about my laziness and a bad phone line resulted in me volunteering with a slight miscomprehension of the dimensions of the task at hand, the 100th Anniversary Festival for my local State Beekeeping Association. A VERY big deal! I ended up running the whole thing, and losing a fair amount of sleep (and peace of mind).

Officially, 2,085 people came, and with equal certainty I promise you that:

  1. I will never do this again; and
  2. I want to go into seclusion.

About three dozen beekeepers volunteered for the day, however, in addition to the Amercian Beekeeping Federation Honey Princess, and Haagen-Daz donated free ice cream.

And my bees are still alive, though perilously low on stores (except the roof girls, who are just rocking along). Updates and photos *are" coming, but I want you to know that David Furst, the guy who interviewed me for the show you can hear by clicking the link above, was very kind to me and I am proud of how the whole thing turned out.


taza said...

hi there--

i googled "feeding sugar water to bees" and got a post of yours from a couple years ago.

i do not keep bees, i am just a lady in Arizona who notices the bee population looking for food when it gets chilly around here.

i have been putting sugar water in a ceramic bowl with a rock in it (for climbing on) and letting the bees eat this. is this a good idea or a bad one?

thank you!


Phang said...

Hey Taza --

Thanks for stopping by, and also for looking after our four-winged friends! :-)

Your set-up for giving sugar water to bees is just right: they will need things like rocks to climb on, in part because they have been known to push and shove each other at water's edge, resulting in possible bee drownings.

There is just one thing I want to add, though... Honeybees in your area are almost certainly "Africanized," which means that they carry genetics which cause them to react more defensively than the bees I keep here. Hollywood has demonized these creatures as "killer" bees, but beekeepers all throughout Central and South America routinely keep these bees.

What I would say is this: if you are attracting large numbers of bees to your yard, you might be taking the risk of a stinging incident. All honeybees defend their hives rather than their foraging areas, but in times of scarcity you can get some more frenzied responses to feeding. Popularity here could be dangerous from a sting perspective.

I'd keep your sugar water bowl well away from paths used by people and four footed creatures, and approach it only when empty, after dark, or when temps are below 40 degrees F.

Supplemental feeding like this can be awfully helpful at times of scarcity, like drought or between bloom cycles, but alot of beekeepers also look down on "feed lot" style feeding like this for the reason above and for the possibility of disease transmission.

Taza, nature is like this, and it is a lesson to us humans. Whether we try to intervene to help or to control, from our worst instincts or our best, we are guaranteed to have at least some unintended consequences. I do not think this means that we should give up or cease to care, but that we need to step carefully, observe closely, and consider continuously whom we are serving and how.

I don't think we were born to come to conclusions, you know. We are here to see, to try, to fail, and to find out.

Anonymous said...

You ran the 100th Anniversary Festival of your state beekeeping association? Congratulations! Amazing! Wow! Thanks for your contributions to your community of beekeeping!

I am looking froward to seeing updates and storied about your hives.