I couldn’t help the play on words but I felt I had to write about my experience this past Saturday. About a month ago, on an impulse, I bought a Groupon for an Intro to Beekeeping class. As some of you know, we live on almost 3 acres of land and have always lamented that for the most part, except for 2 horses belonging to a friend, the land just sits. We’ve always talked about maybe doing something with an acre or so whether it was growing organic produce or herbs or getting some olive trees or fruit trees. We just felt like we should do something. A while back, a friend recommended we look into getting some bees regardless of what we did because if we decided to grow anything, the bees would be a huge advantage in pollinating anything we grew.

Me in a beekeeper suit. This is the closes I will ever come to looking like I work for NASA.

The class was through Round Rock Honey and was taught by Jennifer Scott who happens to be The Bee Wrangler. Jennifer was awesome!! Not only does she know a whole bunch about bees, she is also very passionate about the role they play in nature. Her business is bee removal. She is the person who comes out to your house when you have an infestation to get the bees out. She does it using organic methods which do not destroy the bees. She then takes the bees out to a farm or another apiary and relocates them so that they can help pollinate. By relocating the hives on farms, the bees get a chance to live out their busy (or buzzy) lives and the farmer gets the advantage of increased crop production from these super pollinators. Jennifer’s theory is that these wild or feral bees are more resistant to parasites and disease without the use of chemicals and human intervention making them far better suited for beekeeping.

And after what I saw from her apiary, I have to agree. Her bees are thriving. Her bees were happy, healthy and very docile. As part of our learning experience, we got to hands on “play” with the bees for about 2 hours. She opened up all of her hives to show us all the different parts and pieces that make up the boxes and the frames and pointed out the different types of bees. We were even lucky enough to be granted audience by two different queens from her hives.

This is the queen from one of the hives. You can see a larger image by clicking on the image above. She was a beauty

Not only did Jennifer go over everything we would need to get our own hives started, she also told us about suppliers both local and on the internet where we could obtain supplies. Another good resource she alerted us to is the Harris County Beekeepers Association. Established in 1908, this is one of the oldest beekeeping associations in the state of Texas and is dedicated to helping all beekeepers young and old preserve the beekeeping industry.

There are so many things that I learned about how bees not only help our environment, but also are very beneficial to humans as well. The obvious being that they help pollinate. You can actually buy pretty garden friendly hives to put out in your flower or vegetable gardens to help them thrive and increase the production of your garden.

Smoking the bees doesn’t calm them. It tricks them into thinking they have to prepare to leave the hive. They are so worried about vacating the queen, they aren’t worried about you messing around with them.

There also tons of health benefits as well from ingesting not only honey but other by-products of these insects. Propolis, which is the waxy like substance derived from tree sap used to seal gaps in the hive, is highly antibacterial and can stop a cold before it even starts. Bee venom has been known to help with inflammatory diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, MS, Lupus and  Fibromyalgia. In fact since wrangling bees, Jennifer told us the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome she had several years ago is totally gone without surgery. She also had a Rotary Cuff injury as well her doctor wanted to do surgery on that is now pretty much cured and she has full range of motion of that shoulder which she happily demonstrated for us by rotating her arm windmill fashion. She contributes it to getting stung by her bees occasionally. Also, the substance she calls “bee bread” or the pollen the bees collect and feed to the larva is excellent for treating allergies if ingested in minute amounts.

All in all, it was a great investment. Had I not thought about getting bees before, I definitely would after taking this class. Jennifer said Round Rock will be offering another Groupon in November maybe. I suggest if you are interested in learning about these amazing insects and how they impact our lives to definitely take advantage of this great deal. Not only was it informative but seriously, I got to play with bees without getting stung a million times. Okay, I got stung once through the glove on my pinky finger but that’s supposed to be really rare and it hardly hurt.

So a big fat thanks to Jennifer and Round Rock Honey for making the opportunity for me to learn all about such an amazing creature.