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I started beekeeping school in January.

My dad couldn’t believe it. When I was 10, my sister and I were playing in the street in front of the house and I thought I heard a bee. I ran. I fell. The town had just resurfaced the road and hadn’t repaved yet, so I had loose gravel stuck in both knees, a hand, an elbow, and my chin. I couldn’t move. My dad had to carry me into the house and clean and bandage the wounds.

When I went to school the next day everyone asked what happened.

“I heard a bee.”

“A bee did this to you?!”

“No, I fell.” I fell running from the phantom bee. Because I’m afraid of bees. That’s why my dad couldn’t believe I enrolled in beekeeping school.

Our friend visited last summer and told us about his father’s bees and it sounded fascinating. Then last fall I saw an announcement for beekeeping school. Chatham County Beekeeping School is only offered every other year. The 2017 class was to be held at the new Chatham County Agricultural & Conference Center, less than 2 miles from home. The school notoriously fills up and turns people away, so I figured I’d go if I got a seat.

chatham county beekeeping school

Last night of the 2017 Chatham County Beekeeping School

I was hesitant to keep bees because I had never been stung. What if I was allergic? Then a conversation with a friend reassured me: There’s a simple allergy test. So on my next doctor visit I had the test: Negative. Now I could keep bees care-free, right?

For the past two months I’ve spent every Monday night at school. One of the classes was dedicated to preventing and treating stings. A physician led the session and explained that even if you test negative for a honey bee allergy today, you could become allergic tomorrow. Just like any allergy. He recommends keeping a pack of EpiPens® (or generic equivalent) at home “just in case.” Not so care-free!

bee hive

See the bee’s pollen baskets full of pollen? (Look at the legs of the center bee.)

Fun fact about beekeeping in North Carolina: We have more beekeepers than any other state.

build bee hive

Building bee hive frames!

At one of the classes we built frames and hive bodies. Then I ‘won’ the raffle to buy some equipment so now I have one deep and one medium. I’m gathering the rest of the supplies in the coming weeks. Due to professional and personal commitments (prepping my freelance journalism guide for release soon, and a vacation!), I’m postponing starting hives until June. Until then I plan to pitch a few articles related to beekeeping, follow my mentor (a local beekeeper who resides only 6 miles from me), attend local beekeeping chapter meetings, and try not to run when I hear a bee.

For those who focus on agrojournalism like myself, here are a few magazines that produce editorial on beekeeping (links go directly to writers guidelines, if available):

American Bee Journal

Bee Culture

Countryside Network (Multiple magazines on homesteading, beekeeping, and related topics.)