What Started It All
In the fall of 2011, I picked up a book called “Plan bee” by Susan Brackney. At the time beekeeping was in my periphery, but I knew nothing about it and was frankly, a little bit afraid of it. And who wouldn’t be afraid with upwards of 10,000 stinging insects buzzing around and only a cotton jumpsuit and a goofy hat to keep you safe?? But, after reading this charming account of one woman’s experiences with keeping bees, I was sold….well, I was ready to give it a try…or uh, at least join a class.
So in the Spring of 2012, I enrolled in a local beekeeping class (in my opinion, the best way to learn to keep bees), and with much trepidation, came home with my very own hive. The first few months went amazing. No stings, no worries, hardly any work at all. I should have known it was to good to be true because all that changed once we got into late summer! The girls (yes, 98% of a honey bee colony is female), who once loved me and were so patient as I conducted my ridiculously long inspections, now regarded me as public enemy number one. This is when I learned more than a book could ever teach about beekeeping. I began to listen to the hum and buzz of the hive, mainly out of fear, but hey, whatever gets you there I guess. I would watch the bees. I learned to conduct small, careful, and quick inspections, thus reducing the stress in the hive. My honey bees were trying to tell me things and I began to listen and observe. Once I learned to relax, listen to the bees and my gut, beekeeping became a joy!
Overall, my first year of beekeeping was fraught with new discoveries. The summer was full of irresponsibly long inspections, worry, bee stings, successes and learning opportunities, as well as, honey. One hive turned into two and then, two into five, until in 2015 I had twelve hives; and a newly discovered, highly severe allergy to honey bee stings!! BUT, beekeeping had become an obsession, so with weekly allergy shots and epi-pen in hand, I continue on! What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?
A Much Needed Partner and the Honey
Early in 2015, my mom took the leap and began keeping bees too. She and I would spend hours talking about, working with, planning for, and watching out for our bees. I knew she would make a great beekeeper because she cared so much for each of my honey bees! With her two hives and my twelve hives, it was often hot, sweaty work, but well worth it. Because of my allergy, getting into any hive requires that I suit up in my full jumpsuit, elbow-length leather gloves, with jeans and a polar fleece jacket underneath; so comfy in 60 degree weather, but in 95-100 degrees, not so much! And because we use only natural products in our hives to fight pests, mites and diseases, we conduct more regular inspections. As a beekeeper who approaches my bees with a partnership mind-set, I am more than willing to work hard and make sacrifices for my bees. Working the hives with my mom taught me so much that year and the bees continue to do so each year. They inspire us both with their ingenuity and cooperation. They bring wonder and humor into our lives and they reward us for our love and care with many things including honey. You can sample our small-batch, local honey at Rocket Market, and from all the girls at Saint Abi’s Bees, thank you for supporting local!
All-Natural and Organic Artisan Body Care Products
Recently, my mom and I branched out and began making artisan, all-natural and organic solid lotion bars, lip butter, beard balm and cuticle salves using the beeswax from our bee hives. Thus began Saint Abi’s Bees and our partner NanaBees’ in Idaho. Since then, we have been caring for and loving our bees, while creating healthy, sustainable, and all-natural alternatives to chemically laden body care products. We currently sell Saint Abi’s Bees products at Rocket Market, Main Market Co-op and My Fresh Basket. We have such fun together creating new products. We truly believe you can feel the love from the bees when you use a Saint Abi’s Bees product. Come try us out, support local bees, and let us know what you think. Look for our new “Nose to Toes” pet salve coming soon in 2018!