To get started with beekeeping, Mendel recommends coming to the classes the Beekeepers offer at Matthaei. "Some people think they can do it on their own. But they can't. There are good books out there, but there's no substitute for taking a class with us.
"We limit it to forty people, and we don't let anybody fail," continues Mendel. "There's no charge, but it costs about $500 to start up, including the hive, the jacket with veil, and a small swarm of ten to fifteen thousand bees." The hive itself is a series of stacked boxes six to nine inches deep and nineteen inches long, containing eight- to ten-inch-wide frames of honeycombs. Depending on depth, each box weighs between forty and eighty pounds full.
What about getting stung? "I get stung every time I go into the bees," says Mendel, "but that's because I disturb them. Also, if it's been raining so there's no pollination and no nectar, they don't want to be disturbed. But if it's one o'clock in the afternoon on a sunny day, and the honey's flowing, they're happy, and nothing's going to happen.