We have reached the last step of putting together a bear-proof electric fence for the bee hives and yesterday we purchased the basic beekeeping equipment. The first package of bees is due to arrive on April 16th. I have been reflecting on what it has *really* taken to get almost ready to begin to start keeping bees.

Last October, Woosi and I decided that we wanted to keep bees. Frankly, after knowing Woosi for over 10 years now, I was surprised to learn that beekeeping has been a dream of hers for a long time. Well then, let’s learn about bees. We enrolled in a local apprentice beekeeping course through Beez Neez Apiary Supply shop over in Snohomish. We learned many things. I learned two important things. First, that “beekeeping” is a bit of a misnomer. It gives the impression that one is “keeping” many individual bees when, in reality, what is being kept is a *hive*. The hive is a large complete organism made up of many parts.

Secondly, while there are many factors contributing to the problems that bees have these days, one of the problems that bees face these days is the manner in which traditional beekeeping is conducted. The focus of traditional beekeeping is maximizing honey production. This mentality is responsible for an environmental manipulation of the hive that forces bees to produce the most honey. These manipulations lead to conditions which weaken the hive and create opportunities for parasites to invade. For this reason, our choice of hive is the Top Bar Hive. We make this choice with the full understanding that the honey we get to harvest will be minimal. However, one of the benefits seems to be that we could get more bees wax.

After completing the class, we started building the hives using the Barefoot Beekeeper’s design and plans. Being a dark and rainy winter in the Northwest, that took longer than I thought.

We had also learned that bears love beehives; not for the honey as tradition suggests but for the larvae. One single bear can destroy a LOT of beehives. Bear-DamageSo, we needed to build a bear-proof enclosure of high tension electrical wire. Even with a lot of help, that has taken three weeks (albeit there was a cold included in that). We just installed the solar fence charger (Eclipse DS-40) this morning and hooked it up. We only need one more wire across the gate and a fence tester to be sure it is working.

All of that just to get to the launching pad. Monetarily, this has cost about $1,200.

  • Two, three-pound, packages of bees – $220
  • Basic beekeeping gear (jackets, veils, gloves and tools), $410
  • Electric fencing, $290
  • Solar fence charger, $230
  • Miscellaneous hardware, $50
  • (the lumber for our hives was milled from our cedar tree)

I wanted to record all of this in case anyone else is interested in beekeeping. YMMV of course.