Difficulties of beekeeping in the South - Bee in Harmony, Rowe Apiaries blog

Difficulties of beekeeping

Difficulties of beekeeping - Rowe Apiaries

The spring honey harvesting came late for us this year. Just to prove that my thoughts about quitting our queen breeding efforts for a few years have some valid ground, the girls got sick with a flu-like virus (in June, yes)… Even having my husband back from his two week long military exercises did not help – using babysitter was out of the question, and I was scrambling for the opportunity to harvest and process our honey this weekend. These challenges of farm life made me think of the old days: the days of the American Pioneers (which we will be studying in our home school this year) and the “hands-on” farming practices around the world.

We recently discovered the Edwardian Farm DVD in Costco. I did not know what to expect, but when I came home and we watched September episode, I knew we were hopelessly hooked. Sadly, only Edwardian Farm has been released for viewing in the US. Of course, I just had to buy the books. This week, the Tudor Monastery Farm book came and it is now on the family reading table. We have two more weeks before our homeschooling year starts, and I am excited to will have spent our evenings with such a pleasurable read.

Peter Ginn puts it in his introduction that if he lived in the Tudor days, he would be long dead or at least missing a few limbs. I feel that farming (even beekeeping) can be especially hard in the South. It is true that we can grow something all year around, but … the mosquitoes, the heat, the diseases and pests, and last, but not the least, the most resilient weeds, all make me feel exhausted by the end of the summer. Starting our homeschooling in July saves me from spending the late morning hours outside. Here, I am to warn every new beekeeper: heat exhaustion is a very real and common problem among beekeepers. I knew all about it. I always took plenty of water with me, but … after a few years of beekeeping, it is not the stings, but the heat that gets me. I am, officially, a heat casualty. Too much heat (even in the shade) gives me an all-day-long headache and just makes me sick.

My new beekeeping purchases include this jacket from Kelly Bees. I used to wear my old military pants and t-shirts, but now I wear Under Armour trainer’s pants and T’s. They help a lot. Still, as they say: ” If you don’t like sweating, don’t keep the bees in the South.” I even dump a bucket with (clean) water on myself before I go out, only to find that the water evaporates before I even get down the hill. Nowadays, I must leave the bee yard before 9 am (when it usually gets to about 85F) or go out after 6 pm. The 6-9 am window is rather limiting, but opening the hive in the evening is not the best idea, since all the bees are “home for dinner”. Of course, the fresh honey is wonderful. And what would we not do for the sweet honey? My next post will be all about it.

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