Bee schools and fstops.
Last night was the first evening of the bee school sponsored by the Eastern CT Beekeepers Assn. Members of ECBA spend various amounts of time planning and preparing for the four nights of class. My involvement as President of the club consists of oversight of the entire process as well as presenting several segments of the classes. Therefore, I get a lot of the limelight and each year my job becomes easier as now all I have to do is slightly modify last years presentation to reflect changes in beekeeping practice.
The real work is performed by the soldiers of the group, the members who agonize over how many students to plan for, print and assemble the notebooks, order reference books, register students, haul all the materials to and from class, account for the money, update membership data, bake cookies, buy supplies, make coffee, make more coffee, usher students to the last available seats, find more chairs and on and on!
Then there are the fellow instructors who plan and present their class segments. Each one updating hand outs, hauling in their stuff, showing students how to hold a hammer and nails etc. Two of them have a background as professional instructors while we other two are carpenters. The one thing we have in common is that we all have a passion for beekeeping and a desire to share this with other people.
This year we have more than sixty new students as well as fifty current beekeepers who want to update their skills. This reflects a renewed interest in beekeeping that is occurring not only in our area but across the nation as a whole. Many people are tired of the disconnect from food sources that has happened in the last couple of decades. Our food is most likely shipped hundreds or thousands of miles from farm to table, many times coming from overseas, grown in countries that don’t have the standards of our farmers here in America. By starting a hive or two of bees, some one can not only produce some honey for themselves, but they can also contribute to the pollination of local food sources as well as the plants that make up our environment. Some estimates claim that 40% of our food requires pollination from insects in order to grow and reproduce. That’s quite a responsibility for a bunch of bugs!
So what does bee school have to do with fstops? Years ago, Charlene and I took up photography. Like most people all we really did was ruin a lot of film and once in a while, mostly by accident, we got an good photo. One day we decided to take an introductory photography class. It was at a local Middle School and was taught by a skilled photographer. She spent the next several nights teaching us how a camera works. Things like shutter speed, fstops, depth of field, composition and so on. By learning the basics, photography no longer was frustrating.It became enjoyable and we could predict results, not just waste film. We now have many photos that we can be proud of.
Beekeeping is a similar endeavor. If you spend the time and money starting a colony and then don’t know the basics, all you will do is kill bees. At beginner classes like ours, you will benefit from the experience and knowledge of seasoned beekeepers who will save you from the pitfalls that trip so many beginners. It costs over $300.00 to set up a beehive. If you go to a beginners class and pay attention, you can have a reasonable expectation of keeping the bees alive and perhaps harvesting a little honey for your self!