WHAT STARTED IT ALL
In the fall of 2011, my daughter, Kimberlee, picked up a book called “Plan bee” by Susan Brackney. At the time, beekeeping was only a fascination. She knew nothing about it and was a little bit afraid of it. And who wouldn’t be afraid with 10,000 stinging insects buzzing around and only a cotton jumpsuit and a goofy hat to keep you safe?? But, after she read this charming account of one woman’s experiences with keeping bees, she was sold….well, she was at least ready to give it a try…or maybe join a class.
So in the Spring of 2012, Kimberlee bravely enrolled in a local beekeeping class (the best way to learn to keep bees), and with much trepidation, she came home with her very first hive. The first few months were amazing! No stings, no worries, hardly any work at all. She should have known it was too good to be true. All that changed once late summer arrived! The girls (yes, 98% of a honey bee colony is female), who once loved her and were so patient as she conducted her ridiculously long inspections, now regarded her as “Public Enemy Number One”. This is when she learned more than a book could ever teach about beekeeping. Kimberlee began to listen to the hum and buzz of the hive, mainly out of fear, but hey, whatever gets you there. Together, we would watch the bees. We learned to conduct small, careful, and quick inspections, thus reducing the stress in the hive. Her honey bees were trying to tell her things and she began to listen and observe. Once she learned to relax, listen to the bees and her gut, beekeeping became a joy!
Overall, her first year of beekeeping was fraught with new discoveries. The summer was full of long inspections, worry, bee stings, successes, and learning opportunities, as well as, honey. One hive turned into two and then, two into five, until in 2015 she had twelve hives; and a newly discovered, highly severe allergy to honey bee stings!! BUT, beekeeping had become an obsession with her, so with weekly allergy shots and epi-pen in hand, she continued on! What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?
A MUCH NEEDED PARTNER AND THE HONEY
During that first few years of beekeeping, Kimberlee began to draw me into the process, teaching me what she was learning about keeping bees. By the Spring of 2015, I was ready to take the leap and begin keeping bees too. We would spend hours talking about, working with, planning for, and watching out for our bees. I knew that with Kimberlee’s help, (and a 6-week class) I could be a successful beekeeper too. We both care very deeply for each and every one of our honey bees! In 2016, I added another hive to my apiary. And like my daughter, I discovered that I too am allergic to honey bee venom. Thus began my regiment of honey bee venom shots. Fortunately, my allergy is not as extreme as Kimberlee’s.
With her twelve hives and my two hives, it was often hot, sweaty work, but well worth it. Because of Kimberlee’s extreme allergy, getting into any hive requires that she suit up in her full jumpsuit, elbow-length leather gloves, with jeans and a polar fleece jacket underneath; so comfy in 60 degree weather, but in 95-100 degrees, not so much! And because we use only natural products in our hives to fight pests, mites, and diseases, we conduct more regular inspections. As beekeepers who approach our bees with a partnership mind-set, we are more than willing to work hard and make sacrifices for them. Working the hives with my daughter taught me so much and the bees also continue to teach me new things each year. They inspire us both with their ingenuity and cooperation. They bring wonder and humor into our lives and they reward us for our love and care with many things including honey.
NanaBees’ honey is available, in season, at Flour Mill Natural Foods in the Coeur d’Alene area and Saint Abi’s Bees honey is sold at Rocket Market on the South Hill in Spokane, Main Market, and My Fresh Basket.
From all the girls at NanaBees’ and Saint Abi’s Bees apiaries, thank you for supporting local!
ALL-NATURAL AND ORGANIC ARTISAN BODY CARE PRODUCTS
In 2017, we branched out and began making artisan, all-natural and organic solid Lotion Bars, Lip Butter, Beard Balm, and Cuticle Salve using the beeswax from our bee hives. Already in 2018, we have added Pet Salve to our line-up of products. Thus began the partnership between Saint Abi’s Bees in Washington and NanaBees’ in Idaho. Since then, we have been caring for and loving our bees, while creating healthy, sustainable, and all-natural alternatives to chemically-laden body care products. We have such fun together creating new products. We truly believe you can feel the love from the bees when you use a NanaBees’ product. Come try us out, support local bees, and let us know what you think. Locate a shop near you from my list of shops on my LOCATIONS page.