“Hi”, my name is Steve Sweeney, and I love bees. The house I lived in as a child was not far from an apiary, and I would ride my bike past it almost every day. It wasn't until years later, that my curiosity about bees, turned into a passion to save them. I had driven past an apiary in disarray, equipment tossed about, no bees. I couldn't understand why until researching led me to colony collapse disorder. I understood more of what we were facing. Reading the dramatic effect loosing bees would have on our survival.
Honey bee festival
I took my family to the Lafayette, Ga Honey bee festival. Yes, it is craft fair heaven, we were purchasing candles, and crafts from everywhere, but my stop at the tent with beekeepers..Enter Ken Lee from Tennessee Valley Beekeepers. Turns out Ken was from our area and shared the meeting information with me about Chattanooga, Tn beekeepers association. The next month I was a member, meeting people just like Ken, and just as excited about bees as I was. Every meeting the want to keep bees grew. I attended a free one-day class in Athens, Tn put on by the Cherokee Beekeepers Association. Next TVBA meeting I signed up for the mentor ship program. The program would run spring, summer, and fall. Pairing each of the students with a seasoned beekeeper.
I had agreed to purchase two packages of bees. One would be for home, the other to be kept at the mentorship apiary. The text message came in from that the bees were on the way. How exciting it was to arrive at the pickup location. There were beekeepers from several states waiting on the delivery. There is nothing like seeing a 16-foot trailer filled with 3 lb boxes of bees. The sound of the bees buzzing, and the excitement of waiting in line to be handed “your” bees!
Bringing them home
Driving home with thousands of bees sitting on the truck seat next to you is intense. I wasn't so nervous as I was excited. I arrived at my apiary, donned my beekeeper's jacket, and went on to install my first package of bees. There was a lot of preparation in all of this, but the biggest satisfaction was watching the bees. Standing in the bee yard with them, watching every bee start off performing their tasks, as if they too had read what should happen next. Exciting!
Being a beekeeper is about spreading knowledge, ensuring people I come in contact with walk away informed. Some walk away glad they got away from a bee crazy person, even so, I hope they walk away informed. The choices we make in our yards may seem insignificant, but they can be perilous for a colony miles away.