A homestead, whether rural or suburban, just doesn’t seem quite right without a pretty little beehive somewhere on the property. I think it takes things to the next level. It seems like anyone can manage chickens, but bees? Once you have bees, you’ve really arrived.
There’s a reason of course that bees aren’t something you see in the average backyard. (For one thing, folks are too busy watching “reality” television to even go out into their yards, but that’s another story…) Bees can be a little more overwhelming than other hobbies. There is that whole stinging factor. And then there is all the bad publicity that makes it sound like Colony Collapse Disorder is an unavoidable plague that will kill all your bees the moment you bring them home.
The reality is that bees are much more manageable than you might imagine. It definitely isn’t a hobby for everyone, as it can be expensive and does involve stinging insects. (I am currently a retired beekeeper because I had a pretty bad reaction to a sting. One year later, and I’ve been considering getting bees again but taking better protective measures. That’s a sign of how wildly addictive beekeeping can be!)
The best part of keeping bees is that you don’t have to do it alone! Kentucky has an amazing assortment of beekeepers. Much like the members of a hive, they are highly organized and committed to what they do. They also love to help other folks who are wanting to get started with bees.
There is so much to know and learn about bees. Even seasoned beekeepers still feel like they have a lot to learn. But the single, best advice I can give you is to to mark your calendar for the weekend of March 9th and 10th, the Bluegrass Beekeeping School in Frankfort. If you are interested in getting started with bees, this will give you all the information that you need. (More than I could write in a hundred blog posts!) It’s also a great value for your money—only $25 per person. There will be lots of bee-related things going on around Frankfort that weekend as well.
Please note that if you are unable to attend this school, but are still interested in keeping bees, you should connect with your nearest beekeeping association. They would love to help you get started with bees. My local association came to help me install hives, dropped by to help me troubleshoot any issues I had, and helped me quickly arrange to sell my bees when I needed to. Not only that, their meetings provided an invaluable source of information, friendship, and fun. To find your nearest beekeeping association, visit the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association local association list. Another great source of information is the website of Dr. Phil Craft, former state apiarist.