When I was in college, I visited Russia with a group of agriculture students. While I was there to stimulate my fascination with Russian history and imagery, I was learning firsthand how a country as cold as Russia was able to grow food year round.
One of the most memorable stops on our journey was to a huge warehouse just outside the downtown area of Moscow. From the outside, it looked like any other drab, non-specific grey building in this particular area of urban industrialization, but inside it was a massive greenhouse. Not only was this operation huge in square footage, but there were things growing straight into the air towards the 30 foot ceilings.
Cucumbers, dozens of types of lettuces, watermelons, all under one huge roof from floor to ceiling.
I had so many questions, but just when I was about to raise my hand and ask, we were shown the central bee hives of the grow operation. Near the center of the greenhouse was a glassed in room with multiple honeybee hives. It occurred to me that I had seen a few flying insects in one of the rooms with cucumbers, but because I didn't remember being fearful, I didn't realize it was a bee.
This particular grow operation uses bees year round to pollinate specific crops by giving the bees access to the specific rooms that needed the bees' assistance. The bees were given a warm place to live out their days and all they had to do was do what they always do, which is fly, forage, collect pollen and nectar, raise more bees and produce honey.
I was in awe of the operation, and here my fascination with bees started, in sub-zero temperatures just outside of the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.
This wasn't the only time we discussed bees on this trip abroad, as we visited a museum a few days later where one of the first artificial insemination procedures for bees in Russia was invented. But just like every beekeeper, I was stung.
In early 2011, we each managed to take a beginner beekeeping course from local beekeeper Ed Bell, who's excitement and passion for the honeybee took us beyond the point of being interested. Our pharmacy sponsored a beehive through Belfry Bees in nearby Oswego, and over the course of the spring and summer, Lydia and I mentored with Ed. We inspected hives in a half dozen or so bee yards, tasted honey directly from the comb, watched as baby bees hatched and emerged from the comb, discerned the queen from the thousands of worker bees, noticed the dozen or so different colors of pollen coming in on the bees' pollen baskets, from oranges and yellows to bright purples and blues; simply put, we fell in love with it.
From these direct interactions with the bees, we learned more and more about what bees mean to our health, our food supply and our future. We weren't afraid of being around the bees, and we know how important they are to the environment. Because our pharmacy has always done our best to practice what we preach, we knew we were going to have our own hives, we just had to wait until this spring.
The Compounder Pharmacy is pleased to announce that we now have our very own beehives.
If you live in the area, stop by the pharmacy. You can view the comings and goings of The Compounder hives from the safety of our lunch area window.
We will continue to add to this section with pictures, updates and articles that are directly related to our bee friends.