A bee colony as a pet?
But why not, especially since urban beekeeping is becoming more and more popular and hives are buzzing on the roofs of art galleries, banks, and hotels. For beginner beekeepers, the question arises, why are bees angry or aggressive? Is the viciousness of bees due exclusively to bee breeding? Our young people got answers to these and many other questions as part of the Beekeeping ABC workshops.
Between March 18 and April 1, Vivistop Telliskivi studios held two long sessions on two Saturdays, where our beekeeping enthusiasts, together with the beekeepers of the Tallinn Beekeepers’ Society, Daniil Brant and Erki Naumanis, got theoretical and practical skills in the field of beekeeping.
At the first meeting, we discussed who had had contact with the world of bees earlier and whether bees really are vicious and sting. Daniil talked about saving pollinators and keeping bees. He talked about his desire to have a pet in the 6th grade and that he became the owner of a beehive instead on his grandmother’s recommendation. He is now a beekeeper with 8 years of experience and is happy to introduce his knowledge and skills to younger interested parties. At the same time, he strives for his dream and studies genetic technology at the University of Tartu in order to one day breed the perfect bee.
As for the practical activity, we put our hands to work and worked in the wood workshop, where we matched the frame sticks of the beehive together. We learned how to connect them with different means (nails or clamps), wired the frames and tightened them. We melted the honeycombs using electricity (12V) on the honeycomb wires, first attaching the wires to the frame. Erki taught that if some honeycomb core melts through the wires and breaks into strips, these strips can be reused to make candles. However, this did not happen and the cell bottoms were fused to all frames without defects. At the end of the workshop, we made beeswax candles by hand, and the wood workshop was filled with the pleasant smell of beeswax.
The second meeting took place on the day of fun, April 1, but already on more serious topics and it was discussed what the beekeeper’s year looks like and what activities need to be done throughout the year to take care of both the bee colony and the beehive. We found out what precedes the hibernation period and when the bees start to hibernate, in which month the bee colony has its cleaning flight, which the beehive residents do from April to May, and when the bee colony is actively growing. We also learned what activities the beekeeper has to do after Midsummer, how to deal with the bee hive, when the honey is finally spun, how winter bees are reared and what period of time the beekeeper has time to catch his breath.
Various light microscopes were brought along for the practical part. With their help, young enthusiasts could see with their own eyes what a pollen grain looks like. Different slides contained different types of pollen and we also tried to determine them by reference to the image. In addition to pollen, young people could also look at different parts of a bee’s body under a microscope. For example, the beak and head seemed very interesting — especially the bee’s compound eyes.
Now that the weather is getting warmer and the bees have their cleaning flight behind them, the beekeepers are entering their peak season, and further activities are already taking place outside at the beehives, tending to the bee colonies.
Big thank you to Daniil Brant and Erki Naumanis!
Text and photos: Vivita Estonia