Birds & Bees: Bee Pride

photographs and text by Sharon Kitchens

This past Saturday I ventured on a mini road trip to pick up my beekeeping equipment and supplies from Bee Pride in Lebanon, ME.  Owners Peggy and Brian have been incredibly helpful and calming during my intro to beekeeping, explaining what I need (what I don’t), which hat and veil to purchase (the one from Thorne’s of England) and assembling beautiful 8 frame hives from Humble Abodes woodenware. After picking up my equipment I stayed for an open hive for beginners with Larry Peiffer, VP ME State Beekeepers Association.

Becoming a backyard beekeeper and (very) small scale egg producer (aka “bee and chicken momma”) has taken me to parts of Maine I had only heard of until several weeks ago. Through towns incorporated in the 1700s in the middle of nowhere, that are actually somewhere (it’s just hard to grasp the latter considering all the industry that’s left its mark on the way out of the country in shuttered businesses from motels to gas stations and dilapidated buildings barely holding on). Past a cat cemetery, corner sign indicating moose and deer cutting (in the garage??), big churches, roadside free range egg stands, farm machinery (some rusted years back) and a place that advertises car care and coffee. The trip to Bee Pride took me alongside a caravan of pickup trucks moving someone with a lot of mattresses. I’ve seen beautiful old homes, pristine farmland and tremendous poverty. Occasionally stopping to look in on an antique shop or however briefly chatting with folks at a gas/convenience/sandwich shop. Staying off the freeway, heading down the backroads I believe I am claiming my place among the homesteaders of this great state.

Already the bees and chicks are teaching me as everyone who’s been there said they would.

Nowhere/Somewhere

Dogs at an antique restoration shop in Hollis scrounging for leftover bits of my Morning Glory muffin.

Back of my car loaded up with my beekeeping equipment from Bee Pride.

Bee Pride’s Hives

Larry Peiffer, VP ME State Beekeepers Association (with smoker in hand)

Opening up the hive

Removing a four or five year old frame and replacing it with a new one.

Find the queen! (she has a TINY blue dot on her back, and when she is laying a new egg – something she does hundreds of thousands of times in her lifetime – you can only see HALF her body)

Working on nectar.