Secret Life of Beekeepers

So I apologize that I didn’t update last week – I was at a conference for work in Portland, OR.  While I was presenting my poster at the conference one of my co-workers that I hadn’t seen in over a year stopped by to chat about the poster.  After discussing work, the conversation drifted to hobbies – he mentioned how he had several chickens and had been recently raising goats.  Apparently his children were showing the goats in the state fair that week.  While on the topic of agriculture, I mentioned how I started raising bees this year.  His response was that coincidently he’d gotten bees himself.  We chatted for a while about our hives and he mentioned how he decided to get them – he thought it would be a cool hobby to do with his son.  He said initially his son was afraid of bees, but now has warmed up to their honey bees and will sit near the hive to watch them!

This conversation wasn’t at all out of the norm.  I’ve had dozens of experiences like this, meeting fellow beekeepers randomly by mentioning my hobby.  Its almost like its a secret society, where you utter the right word to a fellow member and you have an instant bond.  And this underground beekeeper network is vast – almost everyone I mention beekeeping to has some connection to the hobby.  Most often they have a neighbor, friend or relative who keeps bees, but sometimes they are a beekeeper themself.  A couple months ago my co-worker forwarded my name to one of the managers in the other building – turns out he got his bees the same week I did! (This is a shout out if you’re reading this.)   After that discovery my husband likes to joke that beekeeping is better for networking than learning to golf!

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2 Responses to Secret Life of Beekeepers

  1. Simon Peffers says:

    I am that manager. I had just gotten bees too, so it was nice to hear about someone else, equally clueless, learning what to do with bees.

    I’ve had similar experiences. There are some who are thinking of getting bees, many who are curious about bees (or CCD), and a few who have bees. My neighbors are one example of the “thinking about” and “curious” sort, and it was they who delivered the final push that sent me looking for a package of bees.

    They have a garden, with many flowers, vegetables, and fruit trees. In my conversations with them over the years they mentioned wanting to get bees, but being concerned about stings they never did. Finally, this spring I was talking to them and they described how last year their lemon tree didn’t produce any lemons. It had bloomed early, indoors, and though they tried to pollinate it by hand it didn’t work. This inevitably turned to the topic of CCD, and I decided that after considering it over the years I should just give it a shot. Worst case if it didn’t work out I figured I would just let them go; they’re bees, after all.

    Part of my motivation was the CCD problem. A friend of mine wonders what I think I’m going to do with my couple of hives when thousands of them are failing. I think of it like recycling – it really doesn’t make any difference if I do it, but as more people do it the impact builds up. Sure, I’m not going to be able to pollinate the almond crop in CA, but my neighbors would assure you that the number of bees in their yard has skyrocketed. Fortunately they’re ok with that.

    It’s surprising how many people are involved in some way in beekeeping, and how integral bees are to our way of life. They’re also simply fascinating once you get to know them. I would encourage anyone thinking about it to take the plunge.

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