Edible Berkshires

Staying Busy as a Bee


Aspiring beekeepers learn how to tend a beehive.

Photos by Brian Cruey, Berkshire Botanical Garden

I always come to the fall season with mixed emotions. Part of me simply can’t believe summer is gone—as always, it passes by too quickly and I desperately cling to those dwindling daylight hours, refusing to admit that it’s over. On the other hand, I’m ready for a break from weeding and mowing, and a truce in the ongoing war I have with the chipmunks in my vegetable garden.

RIP, fresh summer salads straight from the garden! But welcome back, baked goods and oven-cooked meals that are nearly impossible to make during the heat of summer.

Time to take one last kayak on the lake—but it’s also time to make that first fire in the fireplace and drink a hot drink while curled up under a blanket.

It is a confusing time for me, obviously. However, to aid my seasonal moodiness, I always try to keep my summer garden in mind during these cool (and soon-to-be downright cold) months.

Fall and winter are perfect times to hone our skills as gardeners and make the next growing season better than ever. There is always room for improvement and gardening, like most things, is an evolving craft that relies not only on time-honored traditions but also new technologies that are constantly coming to market.

Now is the time to research new techniques and cultivars and start planning for next year.

Fall is also a great time to learn something totally new.

This year I installed bees for the first time—something I started preparing for months before the terrifying two-hour ride home from the apiary from where I picked up my bees (10,000 bees in a screened shoebox on the seat next to you are a lot louder than you think they are going to be but, as it turns out, harmless and totally safe.)

Bees are something that I had considered doing for a long time, not just to eventually harvest honey (usually you have to wait until a hive’s second year), but also to help pollenate my vegetable and flower gardens.

Early on, I found that getting bees takes planning—most places need you to order your bees in February for spring delivery, and bees need an entire summer season to develop a hive strong enough to make it through the winter. I found the best way to learn (for me) was to take a class. This not

Learning how to build a stone wall from the ground up.