Bees at the PEAS Farm!

I don’t know about you, but I have been taking notice of a particular buzzing pollinator at my garden at the Northside Garden and at the PEAS Farm lately.  I’m talking about Apis mellifera, the honeybee.  These ladies (most bees, the worker bees, are female) have been hard at work at the pollinating all of the flowers that will soon become food for you and I at the community garden, rearing young, and producing beautiful amber honey.

Finally, we have bees at the PEAS Farm.  After the Beekeeping Apprentice course I took through the University of Montana’s School of Extended and Lifelong Learning, which I highly recommend, I was hooked.  Having bees at the farm has not only been wonderful for their pollination value, but also for how much we all have been learning from them.

Many PEAS Farm interns and Youth Harvest interns have approached me with interest in helping out more with the bees.  I’m eager to pass this knowledge on.  It’s been amazing to learn how to work with the bees, rather than just manage them.  As someone, like many of us, who tries to juggle too many jobs and responsibilities in life, it has been nice to learn how to slow down, be present, and mindful of my movements when working with the honeybees.  Moving too quickly or handling the bees roughly increases your chances of being stung.

Being someone who has been stung 40 times at once, I had a slight bee phobia when I started all of this training.  But honeybees are not wasps, which are much more aggressive and can sting multiple times compared to a honeybee’s single sting, which is fatal to the honeybee.  Still, honeybees will defend their hive, so slow down and make it known that you are only a friendly observer.

Next time you’re at the PEAS Farm, marvel at the little colony of bees living near the orchard.  Watch as the honeybees travel in and out of the hive from their foraging flights, which can be up to two miles from the hive, and watch how other bees guard the entrance, or fan their wings to keep the hive at a constant temperature.  When you’re at your community garden, take the time to watch the bees bobbing from one bachelor’s button to the next in search of the choicest pollen.  Most of all, take the time to be thankful for all the food these little creatures help make possible.