Sixty Minutes
Words in My Backyard

Calculated Risk . . . or Deciding Not To

When I was a little girl, I was terribly afraid of "bees."  I'm not exactly sure why.  But I was stung once or twice - and it hurt.  I didn't like it.  So I categorized all stinging, flying things as "bees" and decided I didn't like them.

And then I became a gardener.

I learned about the goodness of bees.  Real bees.  Both the honeybee and the millions of other hard-working bees.

I learned to differentiate the bees from wasps (bad) and hornets (also bad).

I learned how easy it is to garden with bees.  Because they are focused on collecting honey and nector.  Not on me.

I became a friend of all pollinators.

And . . . I got a notion to become a backyard beekeeper with a honeybee hive in my backyard.

It just seems a natural extension of my gardening.  I mean, I already create a safe, pollinator-friendly garden.  I attract butterflies and birds and native bees - on purpose.  I provide nesting sites for native bees.

Why not . . . a honeybee hive?


Plus . . . honey!

This winter, I've been reading a lot about backyard beekeeping.  I found a beekeeping-mentor.  I discovered the Kalamazoo Bee Club.  And a couple of weeks ago, I attended their full day Bee School.

I had been just kinda, sorta interested in beekeeping before Bee School.  But after Bee School?  I was All In!  The presenters and leaders were so inspiring and passionate about the bees -- and their beekeeping.  They made it seem do-able and fun and fascinating . . . and REAL.  Their enthusiasm and confidence spilled over and I was convinced.  I was going to be a beekeeper!

But Bee School also stressed me out.  Big Time.  Because . . . 

I should have already ordered my bees.  (But what kind?  And in what form?  And from where???)

And I should have TWO hives to start.  (But I was only planning on one.)

And I needed my hives and equipment NOW.  (And there is so much equipment.)  (And now I need TWO of everything.)

And placement in the garden is vital for success.  (But you don't want the neighbors to be alarmed.)

And, wow!  This stuff - including the bees - is expensive.  (We're talking -- an investment!)

I was STRESSED OUT.  My enthusiasm was waning, and I felt really bad about it.  I mean, here is this . . . thing . . . I've been really interested in trying for years.  Tom is incredibly supportive and encouraging about my trying it.  I have a local mentor who is willing to help me and show me the ropes.  I have the support of this huge Kalamazoo beekeeping community.  And, shoot -- my word is RISK . . . and here's a big one, starting me right in the face.

But I felt rushed.  And not quite ready.

And then I remembered that some risks . . . are calculated risks.  It's important to weigh out the advantages and disadvantages, to decide if the chance of exposure is worth the risk of success.

I calculated.  And decided . . . not to.  At least, not this year.  I'm going to spend this gardening season researching.  I'll help my mentor with his bees and see what it's really like to care for a hive.  I'll stay involved with the Bee Club and visit their apiaries and learn what I can.  I'll consider possible locations for a hive in my own garden this season, and I'll probably talk with my neighbors about what they think of having a hive so close by.

I feel so much better now.  I'm not ruling out beekeeeping altogether; I'm just slowing it down.  Maybe next year.  Maybe not.

We'll see!