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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Buzzing Around the Village

Ahimsa Village has recently been colonized by hundreds of thousands of crawling, buzzing insects. They feed voraciously on flowers of all types and there are large clusters of them in the Butterfly Meadow and the Permaculture Orchard—if you’re brave enough to seek them out. Unlike the Gypsy Moths and Japanese Beetles of recent weeks, we imported these little winged “friends of Ahimsa”—they’re honey bees.

Liam Goble, a local beekeeper and proprietor of Half Acre Farm in State College, offered a “home hive program” this year for those interested in hosting his ever expanding apiary. The deal was much like a community supported agriculture system in that we provided an initial investment of $150 per hive, and Liam established the hives on our land. He maintains the hives and at the end of the season, we hope to get a portion of the honey produced by each hive. Ahimsa members and friends have invested in more than a half dozen hives. The land can accommodate up to 20 comfortably—so there’s room for more if anyone is interested in joining the program.

The program got off to a rocky start in April after we established a number of hives with an experimental design that didn’t appeal to our visiting queens. The first three colonies swarmed off, leaving their hives empty, and us scratching our heads. We went back to the tried and true “Langstroth” hive design, and so far we have 8 healthy and productive hives. Liam has been conducting open inspections for home hive members. It is thrilling to stand so close to a hive full of bees and realize that they are really gentle creatures who would rather not sting you if given the choice. The inspections happen on a monthly basis throughout the season.

If you are interested in getting involved in the Ahimsa Apiary, you can contact Kelle to find out if there is currently space for additional hives in 2009. Liam can be reached at (814) 574-2273 or if you are interested in having a hive placed at your home. At this time, he is only servicing hives located in the State College and Bald Eagle School Districts. Liam also provides training and “hive kits” to those interested in beekeeping. We’ll be hosting our first beekeeping workshop in August 9, and our Fall Honey Harvest Festival is slated for late September. Hope you can join us!

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