Honeybee or Honey Bee?

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Tomato - Tomato? Potato - Potato? Isn't it all in the same?

That's what I thought when it came to the word honeybee/honey bee.

In my research, I came across both terms and figured it was the writer's preference. Either way, it didn't distract me from my studying though it did leave me curious.

Which one is right? Is there one that is truly right? Is it maybe something that differs from culture? Like colour or color? I set out to find the truth and settle it once for all.

After a bit of digging, it turns out there is a term that is more "pollen-itically" correct.

Drum roll, please... "Honey Bee"!

The dyad takes the cake. And the reason why is actually quite interesting. As I searched for my answer a few articles quoted a book by Robert E. Snodgrass called Anatomy of the Honey Bee written way back in 1956!

The preface to the book is quoted here:

"First, it must be explained why the name of the bee appears in the title as two words, though "honeybee" is the customary form in the literature of apiculture. Regardless of dictionaries, we have in entomology a rule for insect common names that can be followed.

It says: If the insect is what its name implies, write the two words separately; otherwise run them together. Thus we have such names as house fly, blow fly and robber fly contrasted with dragonfly, caddicefly and butterfly, because the latter are not flies, just as an aphislion is not a lion and a silverfish is not a fish. The honey bee is an insect and is pre-eminently a bee; "honeybee" is equivalent to "Johnsmith"."  -Ananatomy of the Honey Bee by Robert E. Snodgrass (1956)

Now though that may be a bit hard to understand. My gathering from it is: if the second word is what it actually is, they go separately. Like his examples of house fly versus butterfly. A house fly is, in fact, a fly, where a butterfly is not. Makes sense when you think about all the examples.

Although Miriam-Webster's Dictionary states "honeybee" as the spelling with "honey bee" as a variant, I still think the science trumps everything.

Therefore, I am going to stick with Robert on this one and keep things scientific.

From now on (and I am going back to edit and make sure I am consistent) I will keep to the phrase "honey bee".

Now I am not saying anyone using the compound word as a whole is wrong. To each their own of course. I have just decided to make an educated choice considering I am starting out my journey in the beekeeping world, and want to be as informed as possible.

And so continues the journey to enlighten myself and others on the path to a better world for our honey bees.

Researching: Where to Begin?

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Okay, so we have established some sort of an interest in bees.. but now what?

Going in blind did not seem to be a wise idea, especially when it involved invading the homes of stinging insects.

As I set out to research I honestly thought it was going to be a breeze. Few articles here, a youtube video there and presto: Bee Expert.

How hard could it be to become a beekeeper, especially as a hobby?

But as much information as I found it all seemed scattered. Helpful tips and hints and how to do certain things but no straightforward "How to Keep Bees as a Hobby". It started to feel like I had my work cut out for me. The more I looked into beekeeping the more intricate it started to feel.

What am I getting myself into?

I decided to take a step back. Instead of delving in and losing myself to the depth of bee knowledge, I opted to get a lot more comfortable with the basics. A steady grip on starting out would make it a lot easier to get my head around the complex stuff. Time to hit the books. 

I started with web articles, YouTube videos and TED Talks. These broadened my horizons and made me understand how big the worldwide beekeeping community is. A lot of videos, however, were very specific.

I had to really search to find broad beginners-type information.

I eventually found the most helpful sites and videos and started off on my research journey. Videos have been my favourite tool thus far in getting a really good visual idea of things. Photos help as well but the videos really bring it to life. I am still researching and watching new videos to gain all the basic knowledge I can. 

The next type of researching I went for was books. Debating between buying books on Amazon or saving the cost and hitting the library, I opted for the latter and ran down to the local library. Surprisingly, I did not find many books on beekeeping. I actually went to two branches with not much luck on variety.

I did, however, stumble upon a few books that have been goldmines of information.

My absolute favourite being "Homegrown Honey Bees" by Alethea Morrison There was loads of information and very well taken pictures. My favourite part was that it was an up to date book (published in 2013) so it had a modern flair the older books lacked.

Though the older books did not disappoint. They provided tried and true methods in detail and helped me really get an idea of the background of beekeeping. Each word I read from every book reinforced my desire to learn more. I got my journal out and took tons of notes on useful information we could use to start up our hobby.

The last and most helpful means of research I used was to contact a local beekeeper.

I found my contact, Mark, through his local beehive making business and originally went in to check out his products and hopefully pick his brain. What I left with was a ton of basic bee knowledge and possibly a new bee friend.

The most important tip, something I hadn't even thought of yet, was the importance of our climate. Being a wet and mild area, he gave specific insight into how to cope with things that may arise. He sent me off with his card if I had any more questions and a bee calendar made by our local bee association with so many tips and tricks for our local climate and seasons. He seemed to be our secret weapon of knowledge and I hope when the time comes he could help us get started.

Through all these tools I could sense my bee research going from absolute beginner to somewhat novice - at least in the knowledge department. My exploration continued to trigger my interest.

The excitement of learning new things and the anticipation of putting them to practice; itching to get these bees up and running!

Beekeeping: A Worthy Hob-bee?

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Annoying, pain-in-the-butt flying insects.

Buzzing around like they own the place. And the worst part? They sting you. And it really hurts.

90% of the population would run for the hills if one got too close. If flight wasn’t an option, swatting mercilessly until they were a smear on the bottom of a flip-flop is the only choice to avoid a painful throbbing sting.

And then there is that other 10%. A different breed of human who not only accepts these striped insects for who they are but hosts them and comes in contact with them FOR A LIVING.

My first thought was that the only explanation for this behaviour is psychosis.

As I am sure you have guessed, I am talking about bees. Up until recently, I was right there with the majority in the “run for the hills” category. Actually, let’s be honest, for now I still am.

So why in the world am I starting a beekeeping blog you may ask. Well, my interest was first sparked by the Cheerios wildflower campaign. I had never paid much attention to the welfare of honeybees until the campaign came out and shone a light on the influence of these pollinators and the struggles they are currently and rapidly facing.

Then my attention grew...

All of a sudden they went from vicious pests to innocent victims. They appeared to be invading our lives and homes when really it is the reverse. After the guilt set in, I thought to myself this might be an issue I could do something about. I tried to order the flowers online but they had sold out. Of course, I could've just gone to the store and bought some wildflower seeds, but a different idea came to my mind.

Could I become a beekeeper? Do people even keep bees as a hobby?

If I really wanted to make an impact, keeping some bees in the backyard as a hobby would definitely be a step in that direction. As far as I knew the only people who kept bees in my community were the few local honey companies from the farmers market. Isn't that something families passed down to one another? How do you decide to just "be a beekeeper".

As I delved in, the research I had deemed easy at first shot straight uphill until I had a mound of questions. These questions of course growing into sub-questions until I was deep in a YouTube rabbit hole watching a two hour long video on re-queening an aggressive hive and adding a package of bees to my Amazon cart.

I began to think "Okay, so there is ALOT more to this"

And, eventually, the doubt crept in. Did I almost bite off way more than I could chew and would inevitably choke on?

All the information I had tried to drink in and make sense of began swirling around in my head. This stuff seemed like it took years to master. And not only that but a lot of people I was reading about and gazing at clearly made beekeeping their life.  What if I didn't want it to be my life? I want to keep my day job and go on vacation and stay inside on miserable days and sleep in on weekends. I don't want a full-time bee life. 

Not to mention, could one person deal with all this workload? Thankfully, deciding to start everything up at my parent's house meant I could rely on their support and hopefully other family members or friends.

My first step was to rally a group of people (suckers?) to start out my venture with me. 

I figured having something thats "ours" rather than "mine" already seemed like less of a chore.

When my sister and I were young we used to clean each other's rooms together. We both did mine first (as I am the oldest which automatically makes me the boss) and hers after.

Inevitably we would get bored and hers would teeter between a 6/7 out of 10 on the tidy scale, but none the less it was much more fun to do together. By scrounging up some volunteers to help me on this project, I am convinced it will be much more fun and interesting. I just hope we don't start full tilt and finish with half-built hive pieces covered with snow on the back lawn. 

Some convincing commenced but after it was all done I had three people committed to help try to turn this dream into a reality.

Leah, Heather and Jodi set out to help me get started and at least learn more about honey bees. Help with research, planning and of course, the actual grunt work would be huge. 

This left me with a shimmering hope that not only would I be joined on this daunting venture, but it just might work out. Or it could flop horribly. Stay tuned.