This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
For one Oklahoma man, a prescription for honey produced a passion for bees


off in late summer. The males, called “drones,” have a solitary pur- pose of mating with the queen bee. The females are called “workers” because they do all the work of the hive: they are responsible for cleaning, repairing and defending the colony and they forage for nectar that becomes honey. “The hive will consume between 125 and 150 pounds of honey during the winter,” Strickland says. “Honey bees make more food than they need. The honey we get is surplus.” The excess honey can be removed from the hive, strained or fi l- tered and consumed. Unlike most of the honey found on grocery store shelves, Strickland does not fi lter or pasteurize his honey. He passes it through a double strainer to remove any big chunks. The pollen is not removed, which makes the honey more helpful for allergy-sufferers.


After closing the hive, Strickland points out his garden. Among the strawberry plants and bell peppers is a bed of hardy green stems with small white fl owers. He plants a crop of this buckwheat for the bees each fall, when other nectar sources are limited. Inside the house, Strickland showcases six jars of honey and a honeycomb, recent prizewinners at the Tulsa State Fair. The honey ranges in color from light yellow to dark brown—the color of molas- ses. Strickland explains that the hue varies based on the fl oral source. “Spring honeys come from softer plants like clover and dandelion. In May and June, it becomes hotter and drier. The hardier plants produce a medium-gold honey. The woody vines of late summer and early fall yield a darker, thicker honey,” Strickland explains. “Buckwheat is an exception—it always produces dark honey.”


Bee Fascinated


During his years as a beekeeper, Strickland has been involved in educating others about bees. He visits elementary schools, teaches classes and participates in the Northeast Oklahoma Beekeepers Association.


“I want people to understand bees and not be afraid,” he says. “I hope they’ll fi nd it to be as much a passion as it is for me.” He encourages that people of all ages—including families and mar- ried couples—can participate. His own children have been involved in beekeeping, both in the fi eld and in learning about bees. “There’s a phenomenal group of people interested in bees. It can be a very fulfi lling hobby,” he says. Strickland says beekeeping is not diffi cult. After all, it’s the bees that make the honey. The keeper is not in control of the hive, but is there to assist the bees when needed. Otherwise it’s best to stay out of their way.


In the end, success comes from being interested in the bees. “There are beekeepers and ‘bee-havers,’” he says. “Bee-havers are not interested or involved with their bees. The most successful keep- ers fi nd bees fascinating.” For Strickland this has been the key to his success. “Seven years later, it’s still amazing,” Strickland says. “I won’t watch the same movie twice, but I still fi nd bees fascinating.”


Beekeeping Basics


to 15 days, Strickland says. “It’s not very time intensive. I lift the lids on my hives once a month and


Time Commitment A beginner beekeeper can expect to spend 1 hour in the hive(s) every 10


do a deep inspection three times a year,” he says. “For the fi rst year, you need to go into the hive more because you need to learn.” However, since bees communicate through pheromones, going into


the hive too often will slow down the bees’ work since the smells will escape when the hive is opened.


Financial Investment Strickland estimates the basic equipment including protective gear,


a smoker, and the nuc, will cost about $250. Bees will cost another $100- $150. Equipment and bees can often be purchased locally or can be mail ordered. Equipment should be ready to go in March and bees in May. He recommends looking up a local beekeeper and getting some ex- perience, before making an investment. “Beekeeping should be relaxing, not stressful. If it’s not, it might not be the right hobby for you,” Strickland says. He also recommends beginning with a small colony, which will help the beekeeper to build confi dence.


Space Needed According to Strickland, bees don’t require a large amount of space.


Someone with a quarter-acre lot and a source of constant water can keep bees. An Oklahoma law states that bees cannot be prohibited. However, bees can be zoned out—so check local ordinances to fi nd out if, and how many, bees are allowed before beginning. “Bees don’t respect property lines,” Strickland says. “Be responsible and don’t be a nuisance. Most of the time, your neighbors won’t know.”


Getting Stung “Don’t be afraid of bees. If there’s a bee in front of you, or bumping


you, it’s because you smell good. Just turn and walk away,” he says. Strickland says getting stung is a function of one’s skill as a keeper.


As a precaution, beekeepers should always wear a veil to protect the face. “If you squash a bee, it releases an alarm pheromone to the rest of


the hive, so you have to move slow,” he says. “When I get stung, it’s because I mess up and I’m not being as smooth as I need to be.“ While many people believe they are allergic to bees, Strickland says


that medical studies show less than 1 percent of the population is allergic. “Stings always swell,” he says. “If the swelling is system-wide rather than localized, that’s when it’s a problem.” There are certain times that bees are more irritable and anxious—


when there’s low pressure moving through or when it’s hot. Opening the hive on a good day can help to minimize risk of a sting.


More Information To learn more about RJS Bee Farm or to contact Strickland visit:


www.rjsbeefarm.com To locate a local Beekeepers Association meeting visit: www.okbees.


org NOVEMBER 2014 13


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117  |  Page 118  |  Page 119  |  Page 120  |  Page 121  |  Page 122  |  Page 123  |  Page 124  |  Page 125  |  Page 126  |  Page 127  |  Page 128  |  Page 129  |  Page 130  |  Page 131  |  Page 132  |  Page 133  |  Page 134  |  Page 135  |  Page 136  |  Page 137  |  Page 138  |  Page 139  |  Page 140  |  Page 141  |  Page 142  |  Page 143  |  Page 144  |  Page 145  |  Page 146  |  Page 147  |  Page 148  |  Page 149  |  Page 150  |  Page 151  |  Page 152  |  Page 153  |  Page 154  |  Page 155  |  Page 156  |  Page 157  |  Page 158  |  Page 159  |  Page 160  |  Page 161  |  Page 162