An Interview with a Beekeeper
Because we wanted to learn about bees, we interviewed Paul Maschka, a local beekeeping expert. He works with bees because he wants to help them, support sustainable agriculture and he also thinks it is exciting to produce honey.
Q: How do you care for bees?
A: I go to places where bees are living and people decide that it is an inconvenient place for bees to live. I determine whether the bees are friendly or aggressive and then I move them to a new home if it is possible.
Q: How do you know whether bees are friendly or aggressive?
A: You always stand to the side of a hive to watch the bees. The bees will either ignore you, or they will buzz in your face. If they buzz in your face, then back away about 10 feet. If they ignore you then you are welcome to stay. Bees are truthful about who they are.
Q: How do you move bees to a new home?
A: I don't usually wear a bee suit, but I wear a veil, which is a bee-keeping hood, a long-sleeve shirt and pants. I don't wear gloves. I use a smoker to move the bees. It's important to be organized, and to plan an escape route beforehand if the bees become angry. I also make sure everyone in the area is safe.
Q: What do people not know about bees?
A: Most people don't know that all the worker bees are female, and that they are all sisters. The male drones mate with the queen, who comes out of the hive about once a year. After the drones finish mating, they die. The drones just use the hive for free food.