last week the only thing i knew about bees is that they hang out in our garden and will occasionally sting you if you swat at them. i learned a lot on sunday. my cousin kris & her husband ron live in chicago and have been raising bees for 4 years now. they enjoy it not only as a hobby and to get some fresh honey, but to help repopulate the bee population. so when they were headed out to davis, illinois on sunday, the kids & i joined them for some bee education. we arrived at raines bee farm around three in the afternoon and the place was buzzing. ha. you see, around 800,000 bees had just arrived and car after car after car of beekeepers were arriving to pick up their orders. the bees were close to the finish line of a non-stop cross country trip. four days prior, they were harvested in california, placed into crates (10,000 worker bees and one queen in each crate), and trucked non-stop to northern wisconsin, and finally to raines bee farm. there’s a small window of time that the bees can remain in transit to time is of the essence.
after kris & ron picked up their crate of 10,001 bees (i wouldn’t want to be the guy who counts them as they’re loaded into the crates), we got a crash course on beekeeping from phil the beekeeper. we also met joey the juggling bee. phil showed this amazing worker bee to cashin & brig. he held onto joey upside down and handed the little guy a piece of beeswax, and joey proceeded to juggle the wax around and around and around with his little feet up in the air. it amazed the kids, and us adults as well. phil even told cashin & brig that daddy could train a bee to do that next year too.
next year? yes, i’m hooked. i would have taken a crate of 10,001 with me, but all 800,000 bees were already spoken for. so this summer, the boys and i are going to build some bee boxes, and put our order in for next april. hopefully by next summer, we’ll have some tasty local honey or our own. oh and if you want some of raines bee farm honey (it is delicious), you can meet phil & his beekeeping crew this summer at the rockford city market.