Bee-ginnings

http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/bee-ginnings.aspx

two honeybees 

Every beekeeper, whether they have one hive or thousands, has a story of how they started. Some noticed their vegetable gardens were void of pollinators. Some remembered that their grandfather had bees and they decided to experience it for themselves, and pass the knowledge onto their grandchildren. Some are looking for a way to earn extra income for their farm. A few grew up in a beekeeping family and decided to take the bee industry into the next millennia. 

My bee story is also a love story. Perhaps the bee and I would have met without my having met my husband, Danny … but the introduction would not have immediately led to a life of bees.

As it was, I began helping in the bee yards, and like they say in the beekeeping circles, I was stung. I loved it. It is true that when you look at a hive of bees you forget all your troubles. It is impossible to think of anything else but the focused strength of tens of thousands of insects working together. Coupling this new love with the commercial queen, bee, and honey production my husband and his family owned and managed began a journey of a lifetime.

Currently Danny and I manage BeeWeaver Apiaries. We produce queens, bees, and honey in Texas. For decades our bee business was migratory … we loaded thousands of colonies on semi trucks and hauled them to North Dakota for a honey crop, or the bees traveled between Montana for honey and California for almond pollination. Today our bees stay in Texas … and so do we. The life of a migratory beekeeper is difficult on the beekeeper, the beekeeping family, and the bees. Today we are focused 100 percent on bee breeding and continuing to develop our hardy strain of healthy (and happy!) honeybees.

Across America, the bee’s image has gotten a face-lift. Sadly, it is due to a decline in bee health and population, and the media coverage of colony collapse disorder (CCD).  People who never considered having a hive of bees are now building their own boxes and hiving bees. They are joining local bee clubs and networking to build their bee knowledge. They harvest their honey crops and gift it or haul it to farmers markets to help finance their bee hobby. Prior to the CCD news and documentaries and books, bees were mostly in the media when Africanized or partially Africanized colonies inflicted many stings to a hapless victim. During this time I received calls from people wanting me to remove bees from the blossoms on their peach trees, and bees were exterminated as a routine matter if a swarm stopped to rest in a bush while they searched for a new home.  Today, on the other hand, I have calls from folks asking how they can get started in beekeeping so they can help the bees. It is heartening to see how compassion has replaced fear. 

My bee journey is in full swing, and I am not sure where the hives will take me over the coming years. One thing is for sure though, my life is sweeter with the bee, and for that, I am grateful.

beekeeper in smoke 

Photos: BeeWeaver