Bees have been good to me

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So what if I’m quickly becoming known as the local “Bee-lady”–that’s not so bad (better than being the crazy cat-lady, if you ask me). Bees have been very good to me.

In the three years since I brought home my first colony, my life has changed dramatically–in a very positive way.

I did not expect to be so taken with these stinging insects, but somehow they have fascinated me, intrigued me, bee-fever hit me and even after all this time that fever has yet to break.  And this obsession does not stop at honeybees.

My goals and aspirations have grown to include pollinator conservation.  More than anything I want Runamuk to be known as an advocate for pollinators.  I want to create a center for educating the public about the importance of these beneficial insects, and I want to supply New England with the tools to do so.

It may not look like much now, but I have big plans for Runamuk.  Because we don’t yet own our own property, we are restricted in what we are able to do.  Many goals and projects are sitting on the back burner, waiting to be moved over the flame until we are able to really get cooking.

Next spring we will go to the bank and apply for a line of credit.  We will find a place where we can Runamuk, and then you will see some big changes here.

native beesWe’ve decided to offer native plants for pollinator plantings to farmers and domestic residents.  With extensive perennial gardens of wildflowers, shrubs and trees, we will be able to harvest seeds and plants.  We will grow seedlings in our greenhouse.  Plants and seeds will be available on-site, as well as on-line and by mail.  We hope to be able to service not only Maine, but the whole of New England.

I envision Runamuk as a mecca for pollinator conservation education in Maine and the north-east.  With workshops, demonstrations, and agritourism, we can teach people more about pollinators, how to provide habitat for them and how to protect these vital creatures.

By offering walking paths through the extensive gardens, and picnic areas, families and school students will be able to get close to wildlife.  We can highlight pollinators with specialized nesting habitats, plaques and signage that offer information about the featured pollinator and it’s habitat.  On occasion even guided tours will be available.

And all that is just for the love of pollinators!  To increase our family’s self-sufficiency, we intend to raise rabbits for meat, chickens for eggs, and a select number of dairy goats, as well as goats and sheep for meat.  A hoop-house for year-round garden production, as well as a large vegetable garden, and orchards, is also a necessity.

Did I mention we’re going to be offering beeswax products?  Obviously our local raw honey will be available, and I hope to be able to distribute through local stores within the next couple of years, but we will also have beeswax soaps and lotions, lip-balm, salves, candles, and who knows what else.

It’s a big plan I know, and lots of work–after this summer’s CSA I’m well aware of how much work farming is!–but this is the life we want.  It is the life I want–have always wanted.  And the ball has already been set in motion.

I’ve spent my summer flitting about from one event to another as the president of the Somerset Beekeepers, setting up our display which features Maine’s native pollinators, and discussing bees and beekeeping with the communities of Somerset County.  There was an event at Tractor Supply back in May, in July I hosted a student from the Skowhegan School of Arts at my apiary, in August the Somerset Beekeepers were at the Skowhegan State Fair, and this September I’ve been to the LC Bates Museum for their pollinator celebration, the New Portland LIONS Fair, and the Canaan Grange Hall Event.  It’s been a very busy, but very fun summer.

Oh yes–bees have bee good to me.  They’ve provided me with the revenue that I need to contribute to our household’s income in order to be able to apply for a loan to buy a home.  They’ve given me a niche within our community that allows me to make a difference in this world.  Bees have inspired me, empowered me, and the community has indulged me my strange fascination.  I plan to make the most of the opportunity bees have granted me–and I will give back ten-fold, if it takes me a lifetime.

Share your thoughts, comments or questions!