Why do I keep bees?

Long ago in New York state (far away from where I live now), I saw hives in the apple orchards every spring. After a while they would vanish, and I wondered what that was all about. I asked one of the owners of an orchard along my route to work at the ruck stop and he extolled the virtues of renting honeybee colonies to pollinate his orchard.

Several years later I worked on a farm in Massachusetts as a side job, cutting roads through the woods, mowing, and maintaining vintage tractors. There was a cabinet maker with a shop on the farm, and he kept several hives there. He would be all dressed out in his beekeeping outfit and I would be standing next to him and a pair of shorts and boots watching him working. I was totally fascinated.

A decade or more after that, I was living on a farm in North Carolina, working for a company building swords and armor. One day as I sat in my pickup looking through the mail, a swarm flew in the window of the truck, right in front of me, and out the drivers window. I followed them into the woods hoping to find where they ended up. No luck.

A few years after that, my lovely wife bought me a starter beekeeping kit, and classes on how to be a beekeeper. I dutifully followed the directions (mostly) and despite my ineptitude, including robbing them of as much honey as I could, my first colony made it through the winter.

I added several more colonies and built a top bar hive to experiment with. I was hooked.

I moved out of the country for several years and gave away my beekeeping stuff, since importing agricultural stuff into South America and Ireland would have been much more trouble than it was worth. While in Peru, there was a guy on the corner that squeezed sugar cane stalks for the juice. He always had bees hanging around. I wasn’t there long enough to get an apiary going though I had a good idea where the colony lived.

Once we returned to the states, I decided that I wanted to resume the hobby. It’s been a joy, frustrating, and rewarding beyond my wildest dreams. It’s not for everyone, but those of us that do, understand the fascination.


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