Sunday, March 18, 2012

These Days of Learning

So, yesterday I went to my first beekeeping class! I came home so excited I couldn't actually bring myself to settle down and write, especially since I was barely contained from bouncing all over the room and the internet as I bragged about making my very own hive frame (all by myself!)

Look at what I made, Ma!

I was there for six hours, and although the official "teaching" only amounted to about 5 hours, I counted chatted with the other beeks and newbees as a learning experience as well. I remember walking in when I first arrived, seeing a load of old men, and thinking "Oh boy, I'm out of my league here", but it got better once I signed in and sat down. There were two other women, one learning about bees and the other with a proper bee addiction. The rest were men with gray hair. I was easily the youngest person in the room.

Now, normally I am shy to the extreme around strangers. It takes me a long time to warm up to people I don't know. The only person I recognized I didn't really know at all; he was the guy I was chatting to at the Launceston Show about beekeeping, and where I'd signed up for more information. But I realized that if I was to make any sort of connection with these people, I was going to have to play bold. So *gasp!* I introduced myself to the people sitting around me. All nice, interesting people. Throughout the class I even learned were many of them lived, and that two were near me, and one lived about ten minutes away from my friend. I even managed to arrange rides to and from the next classes. Go me!

Anyway. Not bad for a first class, lots of stuff to absorb for sure, but I feel that I probably would have had a harder time absorbing it if I hadn't been reading about it for a few weeks already. I think I did right to check out all those books from the library! At least I didn't' feel completely clueless when the words of trade started rolling off their tongues.

It was all basic stuff, but I learned that Australia is indeed still free of the Varroa mite, although Apis cerana (the Asian Honeybee) is now an epidemic in the country because of a sampling that came in on the mast of a yacht. Because A. cerana is the natural vector for the Varroa mite, they're really going to have to be on the look out for it, especially as they're considering allowing queen importation. I honestly hope they are extremely stringent in their quarantines. The most popular bee "breed" seems to be A. mellifera, the European Honeybee. (There are a few other species, but the three names I've heard and read about are from Russia, the Caucasian mountains, and the aggressive African bees.)

There's a hopping mouse that can squeeze through 10mm spaces. Some Tassie beekeepers will make their hive entrances 9mm just to eliminate the chances of these little guys getting in.
I also learned that Tasmania has a hopping mouse that can squeeze through 10mm spaces to get into hives, that a hive on a hot summer day will go through 4 liters of water, that the bees will allow the invasion of a bumble bee into the hive just so they can kill it and strip the hairs off it's body to mix with their capping wax, and that you should never put your hand under a hive until you've rattled a stick under it, just in case a snake was hanging out in the warmth (and sometimes the snakes get in the hive too... so watch out!)

Since this is becoming a long post, I think I shall end it here, and come back with more later in a new post. It also means I've got the intro stuff out of the way and can focus on more specific things.

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