I am a survivalist.
I survived Y2K. I survived the end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012. I even survived a recent four-hour shopping trip at the mall with my wife.
Now, I am hoping that I will survive something altogether dangerous and exhilarating: beekeeping.
My wife, Gina, and I signed up for a beekeeping class that will teach us how to keep bees and hopefully produce a never-ending flow of honey. That is, if I don’t kill off bees first with my anti-green thumb.
Now, I know what you are thinking. It is true. I’m paying money in order to get stung by bees. Believe me, it was not my idea. My wife thinks it’s better to be self-sustaining food-wise rather than purchasing processed, unhealthy foods at high prices. Once again, I repeat: This was not my idea!
Our first class was held last week in Oneida County. The class is being held by the Mid-York Beekeepers Club. This first class was all about bee biology, which is pretty fascinating.
Here are some facts that I learned:
There are three types of bees in a colony: the Queen, the dictator bee who calls all the shots; the Workers, little female slaves who do all the work; and the Drones, males bees who are nothing but a bunch of bums.
There is usually one Queen per hive, but many Queen bees are born. Whoever is born first kills the other queens to proclaim her female-bee dominance. Soon after, she begins mating with the Drones and she decides whether or not to fertilize the eggs. Her decision can have a long-lasting impact.
The fertilized eggs become females and they end up being future Queen or Worker bees. The unfertilized eggs, however, become Drones.
The job of Worker bees is to feed the younger larva as well as the Queen bee. Not a bad gig — if you are the Queen.
The Drones, as I have said, are nothing but a bunch of masculine bums. Their only jobs are to impregnate the Queen and to eat nectar.
Oh, did I mention that the Drone bees die immediately after breeding with a Queen? Ouch.
Here is a fun fact about the Drones: they do not have stingers. In order to impress your friends, you should take a Drone bee and put it in your mouth and proclaim: “I am Superbee…no bee with sting me!”
Word of caution: Make sure it is a Drone bee or else you will be talking like you have just been shot up with novocaine.
Actually, the real reason I actually agreed to participate is that I get to wear one of those metal veils and beekeeping suits. If you see someone in a nearby field pretending to be a sabre-wielding astronaut/Olympic fencer, that would be me.
I’ll keep you updated…