The Hobby that Makes the World Go Round

/ˈbēˌkēpiNG/: noun

  1. the occupation of owning and breeding bees for their honey.

The honey from my dad’s bees sweetens my tea every morning and served as Christmas gifts for quite a few friends and family this past year. It’s a fun outlet for my dad and provides a decent service to the environment as well! I love the fact that I get to enjoy honey from my own backyard, as well as learn about a unique activity while giving back to the environment. I had the pleasure of discussing beekeeping with my father who always surprises me with his varied interests and talents. Below you’ll find his insight into the trade of beekeeping, as well as some awesome photos taken by none other than my mom.

What made you want to start beekeeping?

I like the outdoors, and I’m always looking for fun hobbies to do. A colleague of mine is a beekeeper and every time I would see him I’d ask about his bees. I would ask him how you do this and how you do that, I found it very interesting. Over time I decided I would get a couple hives. As I got into beekeeping, I found a lot of my acquaintances actually keep bees too. There is a whole community out there in the beekeeping world. I also heard that local honey is good for you, especially if you have allergies.

Why do you enjoy it?

Bees are very important to the environment as a whole. If you don’t have cross pollination of plants, they won’t grow or produce offspring. I also enjoy being outside and how honeybees do what they do is so fascinating to me. A few interesting facts… honeybees have a three square mile radius in which they go out and collect pollen. They find their way back to the hive by picking up the pheromones the hive puts out. Worker bees are female and the only ones that have stingers. If a hive’s queen bee isn’t laying enough eggs, or if she dies, the worker bees will make another queen. Male honeybees are called drones and their sole purpose is to mate with the queen, and this happens outside the hive.

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How do you manage to have a hobby while being busy with work and life?

That’s one of the amazing things about honeybees, once they’re established in the hive you don’t have to do much. In fact, if you mess with them too much they might leave the hive in search of another hive, or they will not produce honey like they should. Just leave them alone, let them do what they do naturally, and add supers (boxes of frames) as the others get full in order for the hive to grow and produce more honey.

Go into specifics about how to be a successful beekeeper.

Reading, talking to and working with other beekeepers is the best way to learn. I have lost some hives and it’s been mostly my fault. I harvested the honey too late in the season one time, and didn’t feed the hive sugar syrup so they didn’t have enough to eat during the winter. Another time I accidently killed the queen late in the year and the bees didn’t have enough time to make another one before the cold weather. I also lost hives where it wasn’t my fault. It’s hard to tell sometimes why you lose hives. It could be a parasite, or some disease they acquired. I think more times than not it’s the use of herbicides and other chemicals people use to kill weeds, fertilize yards and kill mosquitoes.

Touch on other hobbies you have. What do these add to your life? 

Saltwater fishing is probably my favorite hobby. I also like to play golf and hunt deer and quail. These activities allow me to get some exercise, spend time with friends, get a break from everyday work routine and relax. I also like the challenge and competition.

I strongly believe maintaining an interest outside of normal responsibilities balances out one’s life and provides an outlet of escape from the real world. I’m still searching for my outlet, but I am eternally grateful to have two role models to guide and help me in my search. What are some talents or hobbies you have?

Cheers to happiness and kindness,

Jill

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