BATTLE CREEK, Mich., Oct. 13, 2020 —
A small group of bee enthusiasts swarmed together online and by phone Oct. 7 to kick off the first session of the All in Bee Club Support Group.
Family Program Manager Lisa Grenon arranged the gathering and helped moderate the session. Grenon arranged a similar event for the Battle Creek MWR program last year to share information on the Heroes to Hives program that helps veterans and their families learn about beekeeping.
“After hearing Dr. Adam Ingrao speak and his passion and the necessity for honeybees, I wanted to do my part to bring this to DLA,” Grenon said.” I felt it was so important to have DLA employees and veterans who work in the building have the camaraderie along with military and first responders to learn about bees, hang out together, build community and be able to talk about their life experiences.”
Grenon said beekeeping can also be therapeutic to help someone struggling with trauma, injuries, addiction, depression or anxiety. She said working with bees can be a modality to promote healing and a form of mindfulness.
Defense Logistics Agency employees Adam Beam and David Potter shared their enjoyment with beekeeping and their growing expertise with the group. Their comments included some of the history of beekeeping, the kinds of equipment and tools need to start an apiary and tips on what to consider when choosing those items.
“The boxes can get quite heavy as bees start producing,” Beam said. “If you have a bad back you may want to go with medium-sized boxes to make it easier.”
Beam also shared some lessons learned equipment like gloves. The normal beekeeper’s gloves can make it easier to crush bees because they are less sensitive to touch. Beam used a double layer of nitrile gloves to help him have better feel, prevent crushing any of bees and still avoid getting stung.
Bees can vary like dog breeds, so Beam recommends knowing what they are like and what each brings to the hive. For example, Potter said Russian bees are very productive but can be very temperamental.
“When you are working in the hive they are more easily provoked,” Potter said.
Beam and Potter also discussed how plants with high pollen counts can be used to help support the hive or just invite more bees to a person’s yard. Potter noted that bees are attracted by colors and will travel up to three miles from their hive for a good food source. Dandelions were noted as especially good pollen sources.
Hive placement is also important. Beam said a hive should be near water, not too close to your house, and get lots of sunlight. Group members plan to meet monthly with the next session scheduled for November.