Hi everybody. I'm the newest of the newbies, and I don't have a single bee--YET. It's too late in the season here on Madeline Island, out in Lake Superior. I'm writing in hopes I can get some help getting started. I plan to take the winter to educate myself about all this, and get going this spring. I think my environment is ideal--we have TONS of wildflowers, many kinds, from spring to fall, and also flowering fruit trees. We also have lots of BEARS. Do they get in the hives a lot? We have LOTS of bees of all sorts, but no beekeepers, so I plan to be the first. I realize that honeybees are the ones I'll be keeping..... I don't have any fear of bees--even when they land on my face, which they have been doing a lot lately. They seem attracted to me, but I almost never get stung. A friend of mine noticed this recently and thought I should look into beekeeping, and a lightbulb went on in my head. I love working with and harvesting from my natural environment (We all live pretty green out here--on an island , you have to.) I currently dive for clams, (also trash and "treasure") and harvest such wild goodies as various berries, hazelnuts, fish of course, am keeping an eye out for wild rice and cranberries. I recycle and compost EVERYTHING--I even have a composting toilet. I am a novice herbalist as well. My interest in beekeeping relates not only to the close relationship with bees and their honey, but also other bee products such as pollen and propolis. I would like to experiment with making honey soap as well. I am a big fan of Burts Bees products and would like to make some of my own.... comments, anyone? Oh--by the way... I am backofthebusgirl because I live in a 1977 66 passenger school bus. Recycle, reuse, as they say. (yes, I took the seats out.) :?