Adventure in Beekeeping Series

Well folks, I’ve decided to enter the world of beekeeping! When I try anything new, I always relish in the fact that during this novice time period that I know nothing. Nothing at all. It’s always an interesting experience into a whole new world filled with lots of people talking a different lingo with their own unique culture. As I embark on this adventure I’ll document what I learn and my progress.

Here’s what I’ve done so far…I’ve attended to local beekeeper meetings. These have been very helpful in that they lots of resources, not just seasoned beekeepers that have a wealth of information to share but also simple things like books and dvds on beekeeping. At the beekeeper meetings I’ve already met many people who were eager to help and lend a hand or just be available for our many questions.

I’ve also been online and scouring catalogs trying to piece together what kind of equipment and bees I will get. This is a tremendous job in itself. You have to make a few decisions right of the bat. What strain of bees do you want? What size hive? What size hive body? What size supers? Wow, look at me spewing lingo already. I’ll detail in a later post what kind of equipment I’m choosing and why.

So far, I’ve learned this much: start early! Start going to meetings, read books, get online, and talk to beekeepers. You will want to start deciding what equipment you want to work with and get all that in order and in place before you bring any bees home. And on that matter, you will need to figure out where and when you will get your bees. As I’m typing this in March I have found that most bee sellers are already sold out and I will be getting my bees in the second wave of availability in May. I will also have to drive to another city to pick them up which isn’t ideal but I’m eager to get started!

In the end, there’s a lot to learn and a lot to decide but you gotta start somewhere so I’m jumping head first into this interesting world of bees and I’m looking forward to the day I can look back and remember there was a time I knew nothing about bees.

Inner Space Caverns – Wild Cave Tour

Another day of ouchies. I’m covered in bruises and scratches. My knees look awful.  Saturday I went on the Wild Cave Tour at Inner Space Caverns north of Austin on I-35. You have to book this tour ahead of time. You can’t just show up. For $100 you get 4 hours of crawling on your hands and knees, a chance to drink off the cave floor, the use of dirty elbow pads and knee pads, and as much mud as you would like. Basically…a super-fun bargain! It was a blast diving head first into cracks in the cave and descending into the depths. There were two “coral crawls” that tore me up pretty good but the “canyon walk” was amazing. You can’t be clausterphobic or afraid of heights. Afraid of heights?? you say? yes! there are places where the floor opens up into a pit of darkness. But that’s what makes it so AWESOME! We had one guy on our tour that was probably 6’2″, 250ish pounds. There was only one place he kinda struggled but he definitely made it. Our guides, Katie and Dawn, were awesome. They were knowledgable, friendly and enthusiastic! Basically, everything you’d want in a guide.

As for gear, it’s defnitely nice to use theirs (elbow pads, knee pads and gloves) cause you can give them back all muddy and let them deal with it.

They also lend you a helmet with a light on it.

Shoes-make sure the bottom are grippy. There’s a lot of slick rock and mud. Some people wore the Five Toes and they seemed to do fine. I used old running shoes that I threw away afterwards.

Shirt-they recommend short sleeve but I think next time I’d go with long cause my arms got scratched up from all the crawling. At  Inner Space they also take a “before and after” picture. My brother and I wore white t-shirts. Our before and after pictures were extra hilarious cause of the marked difference in amount of accumulated mud.

Pants-some people wore jeans, military pants, yoga pants. I wore scrub bottoms so I could just throw everything away.

Bandana-Definitely recommended. It’s nice having something catching all the sweat dripping down your face.

Gloves-They get super muddy. If you bring your own, be prepared to throw them away or donate to the caves like I did.

Elbow and Knee Pads-make sure you find a pair that fit really well when you get to Inner Space. The knee and elbow pads unavoidably shift as you crawl through the tightest spots. The same goes for your pants. Make sure they stay on by not having bulky pockets or belts that catch.

 

There’s no food, water or bathroom breaks in the caves. I didn’t find that to be a problem but it’s something some of y’all might want to consider. This definitely not the same tour that you go on when you were little on your school field trips. This tour lets you see some stuff that other visitors might never see and definitely gives you an experience not felt by many.

At the end of our adventure, we popped out of the hidden passages and right in middle of one of the regular cave tours much to the surprise of the tour guests. We were all sweaty, muddy and dishelved. But to sum it all up, one of the kids saw us and pointed to us and said,”I wanna do that! They’re on the FUN tour!” And you know what? She was right.