On Thursday I moved one more step closer to making my beekeeping fantasy a reality. I attended the first session of a six-week course on beekeeping. We'll be in the classroom for six weeks and then in mid- to late-march, we'll go on a field trip to a local apiary to handle bees for ourselves. I've got lots of decisions to make in the next few weeks:
- what kind of hive will I get? I am leaning towards a top bar hive because I like the simplicity of the construction. It is something I can build myself. And, it will be easier for me to manage because it won't be as heavy as the more traditional Langstroth style hive. There are some disadvantages to going with this style mainly that it isn't widely used in this area so I won't have many beekeepers to call on if I need help or have questions. See the photos below to see the two styles.
- what kind of bees will I get? There are different kinds of bees and they have different properties. Some are known as calmer bees, some are known good producers, others are what is known as "hygenic." Hygenic bees are more vigilant at keeping themselves and their hive clean of parasites and other unwanted items. Lots of decisions to make but not a lot of time. I've got to order my bees now to guaranty delivery by the end of March/early-April
- how many hives should I start? Before I took the class on Thursday I figured I'd just have one hive, but the instructors advocated I should get two so that I can compare them and have a safety net if one of my hives fails. It is something I hadn't considered but I am thinking seriously about.
In the meantime, I'm voraciously reading up as much as I can so I can take the best care possible of the 10,000-20,000 bees that I'll be responsible for in a couple of months!
Last, one very important thing I also need to do is figure out the new Washington, DC City regulations on beekeeping. I want to make sure that I'm doing everything on the up-and-up and my neighbors know and are comfortable with my project. Fingers crossed!