THE 10 STAGES OF BEEKEEPING ADDICTION

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Many new beekeepers fall head-over-heels for bees. I often joke that my own story is the classic tale of ‘girl meets bee’. Not only is the world of bees fascinating, the sheer volume of information on the subject can be engrossing. A person could spend hours on forums, blogs, YouTube videos, magazines and scientific papers! If you count yourself among the bee obsessed, read on to find out how far gone you are.

You have withdrawals. 

I think most beekeepers go through this during the winter, when temperatures rarely allow for foraging let alone hive inspections. I frequently hear from beekeepers who are jealous of my mild Southern California climate and consequent year-round beekeeping adventures. Despite my luck, even I experience pangs of longing for contact with my bees after just a few weeks away from them. I find myself curing mild bouts of moodiness or depression by suiting up and saying “hi” to my girls. Even if it’s just a few peaceful minutes watching them fly in and out of the hive. If this sounds like you, you’ve reached the first stage of beekeeping addiction.

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You drone on about bees.

If you find yourself explaining to the grocery store clerk how drones are made from unfertilized eggs, you’re in trouble. Once you start talking bees, there’s just so much to say! Am I right? Just know your family members are likely gesturing wildly behind your back to the unsuspecting fool who sets you on the topic!

2015-05-04 12.03.56-1You investigate all nearby flowers for “your” bees.

Bees forage up to three miles for food and once they leave the hive, there’s really no way to identify them as yours versus any other colonies that could be in the area, but I still find myself trying! Not to mention I like knowing what kind of flowers they prefer, what’s in bloom and if they are collecting pollen or nectar from it!

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You need to I.D. all buzzing UFOs.

When you hear something buzz on by and you absolutely have to find out what it was. A honey bee? A carpenter bee? A wasp? Sometimes I think I can tell what it might be just by the quality of the buzz and I find myself chasing down whatever it was to check.

Beehive entrance

You constantly think, “I could put a hive there”.

As someone who places hives in mostly urban and suburban settings, this thought goes through my head at least twice a day. I have been plotting how to ask the owner of the corner liquor store if I can put hives on his roof for months!

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You hear buzzing when there are no bees around.

Most people wouldn’t like to admit to hearing things that are not there, but here I go anyway. After long hours spent with bees, I am often left with a humming buzz in my ears. I usually have to ask someone else if they hear it, too just to be sure there aren’t any “hitchhiker” bees in my car! When this first started happening to me, I knew my obsession with bees was on a whole new level.

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When you close your eyes at night, you see bees.

Eventually I got to the point where I started seeing bees imprinted on the inside of my eyelids. I’d lay down to sleep and visions of honey bees danced in my head! When I was a kid, this used to happen to me if I played video games for too long. So, if honey bees start permeating your sensory organs, watch out, your family might be getting ready to do an intervention.

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When you feel pain, you assume you are being stung.

Once you’ve been beekeeping for awhile, you’re likely to experience what I call a “ninja bee”. This is a bee that hid in your clothes during an inspection and ends up stinging you hours later when you unwittingly crush her against yourself. The poor bee doesn’t intend to sting you, she’s usually just lost, cold or confused and ends up hanging out on you without your knowing. After this has happened to you over and over again, you cease to be surprised when you are stung in non-beekeeping environments. In fact, I am at the point where my brain’s first assumption upon feeling minor pain is that I am being stung.

Bee on a Whale Watching Trip

Bees find you everywhere. 

Even when I am nowhere near my beehives, bees seem to find me. At first I thought it might just be that I notice bees more than the average person, but then it started to seem like something more. On my last vacation, for example, one landed on me several miles offshore during a whale watching trip! I even got a photo of her with some Humpback Whale water spouts in the background. It’s at the point where if I pull up to a red light and my car windows are down, a bee will fly into my car. Upon hearing this, a former english teacher declared that my life now resembles a magical realism novel. As much as I’d like to believe it, I think it is more likely that I smell like a beehive, but hey, bees are capable of recognizing individual human faces so you never know!

 

The 10 Stages of Beekeeping Addiction

Bees frequent your dreams.

People talk about how amazing flying dreams are, but personally I prefer to dream about bees. There’s something really magical about encountering bees in the dreamscape. My favorite is when I dream about catching a swarm and I find the queen bee. I had one recently where I was sitting in a parked car with the sunroof open and swarm flew into the car! It was enchanting and chaotic, but I  found the queen on the glove box and felt pure joy. I like to joke with my intern that once a person dreams about bees, they’ve reached beekeeping enlightenment.

Bonus: Once, after a long week of beekeeping, I retired to my room to relax and read a novel. I must have been borderline delusional because I found myself envisioning the character in a bee suit despite the fact that the book had nothing to with beekeeping and the character was not doing anything related to bees whatsoever! I simply had been imagining him in a bee suit because I had been wearing mine so much!

*Featured photo by Cam Buker.

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18 Comments

Richard Soundy

Did you know that your ears transmit a frequency (somewhere around 700~) that becomes part of your hearing measurement. Strange thing, contented bees drone at a similar frequency, thus it should not be a surprise that you hear it in your sleep!

Richard

Reply
lemmje

Snow on the ground but temps near 40 and the sun is shining. Lifted the quilt boxes on my nucs just a little and was so happy to hear that joyous buzz from the hives!

Even better, the Russian hive sent out three guards to make sure i was not gonna bother them, and i found myself wishing the one that pinged my cheek would have stung me…..how crazy is that?!?

Reply
Patrick Purcell

Great article, made me laugh out load.

I may have a solution for those who could afford it. Go visit a bee-keeper in a different climate! We bee keepers do tend to get along! I love spending time with other bee keepers.

Bee keepers interested in visiting me in the Solomon Islands, 8 degrees south of the equator in the SW pacific are welcome to contact me via email, PatrickPurcell3atgmaildotcom

I’m saying this off the top of my head, nothing is organized but if you are serious I’m sure we could work it out.

Cheers,
Patrick

Reply
Emily Scott

The only good thing about beekeeping in a cold climate is that you get a rest in winter! And the bees get a chance to shake off some varroa mites. Also sometimes you get to save cold bees too chilled to fly back home by cupping them gently in your hands and blowing hot breath on them to bring them back to life. Other than that, we miss the bees so much in the winter!

Reply
Monica

I’m up to chickens (laying hens) and have the top bar hive ready for next spring when I hope to get my bees. Actually, for people who live in the city, talking about our ‘companions” makes for good stories: people get a good laugh when I talk about the gay rooster I had.

Reply
Lyn

I have had my own bees for just three months. It feels like so much longer. I suppose I have been studying bees for eight months, so maybe that is why it feels longer. Anyway, I work in a garden centre an bees land on melynsumner@xtra.co.nz and or a flower I might be inspecting. They really do seem to fly at me. They never used to!

Reply
The Bee Whisperer

if you every need help we have been teaching beekeeping all over the wold now for 17 years.

we teach an avg of 800 kids a year. we love to help

Abeefriendlycompnay.com

Reply
Syed Yawar Abbas

This is so true, I used to think, it happens to me only. Especially the “bees find you everywhere” one. I had almost the same experience as you mentioned. I went out for fishing and I was fishing for a while, suddenly a bee came and landed on my shirt and moved to my wrist. I too clicked a picture. Each thing you mentioned, is true.

Reply

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