Thursday, June 14, 2007

How I "bee"came a beekeeper

Well here is the first post in a long while. I have lots and lots to say but so little time to actually sit here and get it all typed out. (I am a horribly slow typist) I am really wanting to put up some pictures too but again I have serious time issues. There are lots of things going on at our house lately but I'm backtracking a little for the benefit of those friends of mine back in Missouri who haven't had a chance to get all caught up with the goings on at our place.

I've always wanted to have bees as pets as long as I can remember. As soon as I learned that bees made honey and that some people actually kept them in their yards I wanted to have my own bees. My earliest memory of a bee was when I was very little. A bee landed on my arm and began to groom itself, then it started just walking around on my arm and would stop every so often and roll around like a puppy does on the floor. This bee acted like it had known me all of my life and was one of my best friends! At first when it landed on me I was afraid of it but then I remembered my daddy saying that bees can smell the fear on you and it will make them more likely to sting so I sat really really still and tried my very hardest not to be scared. By the time the bee flew away I was having a really hard time not cracking up laughing..... partly because the bee was tickling me and partly because I realized how silly I was to be so scared of such a tiny little creature in the first place. After that I fell in love with bees and of course I wanted to have my own bees as pets.

I pestered mom and daddy for years wanting to get my own bees but we either lived somewhere where it would not have been a good idea or mom was afraid she might get stung thought I was too young to be a good beekeeper. Well since the Lord has given us the place to live that we are in now and we have plenty of space and I'm finally old enough to be a fairly decent beekeeper Mom started checking around last winter to get all the details about how to keep bees. She found a class in Greensboro that the state university puts out to help teach people to keep bees and she talked to one of her online friends who she had known on a message board for years about how to get us started in beekeeping.

By this time I had almost totally forgotten that I wanted to have bees in the first place!! I had also learned alot more about things like allergic reactions that some people have to bee stings (like my momma) and was about to chicken out a little bit hesitant about getting bees now. But my sweet and patient momma just encouraged me and helped us research the field of beekeeping and then enrolled us in the classes in Greensboro. I think she knew that we would all regret it if we passed up the opportunity to do something we wanted to do because of fear. (my momma is a very brave lady)

So in February we started the classes. Thank the Lord for a momma who is willing to drive 2 hours each way with not only her own 3 young 'uns but a friend of ours too every single Thursday night for weeks on end!! I know it was really a lot of stress and strain on my momma and she didn't even want bees or get bees of her own! But faithfully and dutifully she took us all to those classes and helped us study and encouraged us to keep on when the mile long words and complicated bee biology felt like it was too much to cram into our heads. We graduated the classes and tried hard to get ready for the written and practical tests. Momma also took us several times to another town that was just as far away as the classes to learn about beekeeping from her online friend Mr. Wally who has kept bees for over 50 years. We learned from him how to actually handle the bees and the equipment that we will need to be good beekeepers, and a few tricks that only the old timers like him would know to teach us.

So after the months of studying and training beside our new friend Mr. Wally we had to take the written test first. Thankfully with the Lord's help and momma and Mr. Wally's training and teaching I passed!!! I was only one step away from being a state certified beekeeper and all that was left was to take the practical test.... that meant that I had to actually prove to the state examiner that I could work a beehive and know what I was doing ALL BY MYSELF! But again the Lord blessed me and helped me to do all that I had to do and remember all the things that I had to know and I passed the test.

I don't think any of my family will ever forget the day I took the practical test. There were so many people watching and I was soooo nervous! Because I wanted to guard my testimony I only wore my veil (a special kind of veil that protects the face from stings) during the test. There I was in front of dozens of people wearing a dress and short sleeves carefully manipulating a hive full of furious bees who were slightly agitated just from being handled all day long by so many people taking the test. There was another hive right beside the one I was working in and a very large older man was there taking his test wearing a professional style beesuit that totally covers every inch of him so he won't get stung..... and right in the middle of his test as I'm trying to find the queen for my test he stops and quite loudly tells everyone that he feels like a total idiot for being so afraid of the bees when a "little girl" like me was out there in a dress and veil. My momma was really beaming when she told some of those folks that the Lord had blessed us in doing this and she didn't think we had any reason to be so afraid that day..... after all God can take care of us even in the middle of about 90,000 bees wearing a dress.

The Lord has given me so much to thankful for in this! He has shown me yet again that my momma loves me more than I can put into words (probably more than she can put into words too).... she hung in there with us in the classes and the tests (she passed too and is state certified). Momma drove us all over the place even when she felt bad (momma has some health problems that she doesn't talk about much but she feels really bad a lot of the time) and she sacrificed her time and energy, she covered us in prayer all the time and she encouraged us when we were ready to give up, and she arranged and re-arranged her budget a zillion times to make sure that we could get the equipment we needed to get started. My momma did all of that knowing that there was nothing in it for her to gain but that it was a dream of mine. Thank God for my momma!

I'm also thankful for my new friend Mr. Wally! He taught us so much to get us ready to keep bees. He gave us some equipment to help us get started and helped us get our first hives. Mr. Wally also sacrificed some of his own bees and equipment to give to my friend who went to the classes with us so she could have her own bees too! I've become very close to Mr. Wally and my brothers and I call him "Grandpa" now. He's been so kind and generous to my family, he's been a great teacher and friend to us and it is one of my most heartfelt prayers that Mr. Wally will surrender his life to Jesus before it is too late. Please pray for my dear friend Mr. Wally, he has heart problems and even during our classes he suffered a major heart attack. My family and I have made several trips up to his house to witness to him, he knows what he needs to do to get heaven now and all we can do is pray and wait what needs done in his heart now must be done by the Holy Spirit of God.

I'm also thankful to the Lord for our very first hives of bees!! My brothers and I each have our own hive and though there have been a few troubled times we are almost ready to take our first honey harvest!! The Lord has also allowed me and my brothers to start our own business which is already shown a profit! I'm so very excited about what the Lord is doing with our family! So there you have it straight from the horses mouth, the story of how I bee-came a beekeeper. Now y'all bee good til next time!

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