One of the questions over the years I have been asked many times is what made you decide to become a beekeeper. I wish I could give an answer like it always was my dream from a child to a beekeeper. Honestly, I just fell into it.
My introduction into bees started during summer breaks in high school in the extraction plant where we would separate the honey from the frames. At first, I didn’t really like it. It was hard work, it was hot, and you were getting stung by bees continually. When I closed my eyes at night after working those days, all I could see is multitudes of bees crawling over each other in mass. It was more like a nightmare than anything.
It wasn’t until I was in college and would start working earlier in the bee season and seeing the hives build up for honey flow that I started to fall in love them. Seeing the inner working of the hive was magic to me. I had never thought it possible of insects all the things they were capable of. They shook the foundation of what I perceived of intelligence, sacrifice and dedication could be. Cue the bright lights from the sky and angels singing, it was a personal epiphany.
It opened my mind to the possibility of the divine. I remembered reading about different cultures of the ancient world and how many of them admired and even worshipped bees. I was starting to understand their obsession.
It can be one of the purest sensations I argue in the world to work with bees. The smells of honey, wax and propolis makes me think of warm soothing feelings, comforting, familiar, safe. The bees flapping their wings gives off a C note, pleasing to our human ears. The inner workings of the hive inspire a sense of purpose and belonging. It was making it hard not to become a beekeeper.
I was completing my other great love in life, Art and Design in college. The prospects for jobs in my chosen field were grim in the early 1990’s. A student loan that I had taken was coming due. As a farm kid I had limited skills other than knowing how to work hard. I got a job working in the patch in the winter and beekeeping was there for me in the summer. It seemed like not a bad thing to do until things got better in the job market.
Things probably got better for jobs in my field. What I had dreamed of as an Artist probably could have happened, but I didn’t notice. I had fallen in love and I could not bear to think of summers without the bees and being immersed in nature. So, I forgot about the city, and the dreams and ambitions I had, in exchange for a soul filling life filled with bees. And that’s how it happened.