The Bulletin Post staff was recently invited to visit the beehives at the Learning Bee Yard on the grounds of the Poquoson Museum, next door to the Master Gardener run Poquoson Learning Garden. We were given a guided tour of the location by Chet Atkins, a Colonial Beekeepers Association member, and Lead for the CBA Learning Bee Yard located in Poquoson.
There are many of us that are afraid of bees, either for reasons of allergies or simply bugs of any kind freak us out. This writer is one of those people who don’t like bees in nature. I’ve been stung by honeybees, yellow jackets, wasps, and many other insects. Whether it was my fault for most of those instances is . . . well that’s another story. Suffice it to say no one jumps faster or higher than I do when a bug divebombs with their incessant buzzing.
But our tour of a hive was exciting for me. Of course, no task is a task worth doing without the proper gear, and even though the chances of being stung during March are practically nil. Chet was sure to give us both bee suits, gloves, and rubber bands to tie over our pant legs.
“Some people keep bees and others manage bees. The need for management has increased in the last few decades. With the chemical sprays on yards and the many pests,” Chet explained.
With the globe shrinking and people being able to do more with distant neighbors from other countries there have been good things, but equally bad things such as invasive insects from other parts of the world, like the mite problem from Asia.
Chet explained, “Beekeeping isn’t just setting a beehive box out in the yard and letting nature take its course, there are several beekeepers that are taking scientific approaches to solve problems, like sanitation, warmth, and the mite problems which pester hives. Scientists with mad skills,” Chet concluded, “they find new ways to help the productivity and health of honeybees.”
We learned about the different bees in a hive, their own specific jobs and how the hive is managed and run. Truly amazing! I never knew these little marvels were so complicated or intelligent! It was fascinating to see so many bees in just one hive. As Chet opened the hive, he was telling us of mental notes that he was making for improvement to the hive.
“Everyone has their own techniques. Like my mentor said, ‘If the bees are living well and producing honey, you’re doing your job well, no matter how you’re doing it.’”
You may be asking though: “What about bees that I see in clusters on trees though, or on my mailbox?”
Chet explained that too. When you see a cluster of bees in an odd location like a mailbox, or even on a tree out in the open. These are called swarms, and while they may look like they can be vengeful they’re actually calm and docile. They’re just looking for a new home.
Imagine moving from your home having little to no food just looking for a place to rest and regroup. You probably are exhausted right? Well so are they.
Most people, again myself included, have seen these and secretly thought “how can I kill them before they kill me.” Well for those of us that don’t know what to do, and now knowing that killing them isn’t a good idea, The Colonial Beekeepers Association has a special group of people to come and remove swarms of bees that you may find in those strange places and will safely relocate them to a new hive home.
On their own, honeybees only have a 25% chance of survival outside the care of a beekeeper. Contact the swarm hotline at 757-878-7707 as soon as possible. Make it a contact in your phone because there’s a good chance you’ll encounter a swarm over the next 5 months.
Now if you’re someone who thinks they want to try keeping bees but want to know more about it, The Colonial Beekeepers Association have two options for you, one is to call them and have one of their members come out to your place and they will inspect your property to see if there is adequate space to keep bee hives.
The Colonial Beekeepers also hold yearly beekeeping classes which start March 26th where you can learn everything about keeping bees, harvesting honey and much more.
We hope this article helped you out some with your questions about Honeybees, please reach out to The Colonial Beekeepers Association with any questions at their website: https://www.colonialbeekeepers.org/ or their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ColonialBeekeepers