Beekeeping

How I got started

Actually, it was on a whim. I was working at Starbucks and my boss was asking me how I’d like to go for a managerial position. I turned to him and said “That sounds ok, but honestly, if someone offered me a position as a beekeeper, I’d be gone from this job!” Yeah, he thought I was weird. I got home and told my husband, I think I’d like to be a beekeeper. It was the first time I’d even thought of it. I began doing some research and I was absolutely amazed at these tiny insects. I mean, did you know that not only do they produce sweet sweet honey, but they produce beeswax, propolis (made from tree sap), bee venom that can be used for MS and arthritis, pollen, and royal jelly. That’s a lot of products for such a small creature. I appreciated their industry. But that is only the beginning of my love for these little bugs.

Then I found the beekeeper’s club in Victoria. They meet the second Thursday of every month and mostly consist of men and a few women in their early 60′s. Hobbyists with a few doing it commercially. And they are a very generous lot. I hooked up with a lady who offered to show me how she kept bees. Awesome!

The beekeeper’s club was offering a 10 week class, once a week in the evenings, called “Introduction to Beekeeping.” The teachers were Larry and Marilyn Lindal. Larry has been keeping bees for about 60 years and I believe he is a third generation beekeeper. Just the kind of person you want teaching you.

After we moved to Pender Island in May 2008, I got my first hive on July 1st, 2008. From then on, I was hooked to the hive.

What am I doing now?

I’ve been keeping bees now for nearly 7 years. I had as many as 27 hives but experienced significant loss after I was not able to over-winter them properly because my daughter was having heart surgery. Now I am building up again but I do not have the same ambition to do this as a full-time job. The number of hives I have changes often, as I split hives, or they swarm, or they perish. I try to keep between 5-10 hives as that is the time afforded between my other jobs and raising my child.

Long term goal

I would eventually like to have enough honey to sell and make some profit. I would also like having enough honey that I can really splurge and use it for baking and gifts throughout the year. But there is a reason honey is expensive, it takes time and a lot of work to produce a finished product.

Through the last years keeping bees, I still absolutely love it!

4 Thoughts on “Beekeeping

  1. Adrienne Parlee on 14 February, 2012 at 9:30 am said:

    Been here to read your story about getting started in bees….
    I was reading how pesticides from crop spraying are being found in the bees of Alberta.
    What do you think of how they are importing Russian bees that have been proven to be resistant against mites?
    Are the Russian bees ‘more resistant’ or just healthier and stronger because they are living in a more old-fashioned, ‘natural’ environment than the bees on our continent where their are more ‘modern’ farming practices I wonder.

    I’ve observed something in my garden for ex….that the weak, unhealthy plants get attacked by things…or if I put buy a houseplant and put it into a pot with loamy alkaline soil when it likes sandy and acid soil then it gets aphids because it is in a weakened condition.
    Therefore, I wonder, if the bees get disease because they are weakened,
    due to people growing mostly man-altered, hybrid-variety plants, on depleted soils, and no nutrient rich manure from animals is added back onto the soil anymore these days like it used to be, and so maybe the bees are collecting, as a result, inferior pollen and the bees are vitamin deficient. I hope more people on Pender Island, where you are, are growing strong heritage variety plants in their gardens and learning to take their own seeds, and raising animals, and who knows…maybe your bees will be stronger and more resistant to mites etc.
    On this subject of everything being interconnected, I know that I have read that for centuries shepherds worked hard to enrich their pastures by spreading and plowing in manure and growing clover and buckwheat and cover-crops so that their sheep would feed on luxurious meadows that resulted in their sheep being productive in lots of milk and meat and wool. Poor shepherds who didn’t care for their soils were known for their miserable, sick and unproductive sheep.
    thinking out loud,
    Adrienne

  2. Heather on 15 March, 2015 at 8:21 pm said:

    Hi Amanda,
    We met once in the nest at Mothering Touch and I’ve been reading through your website lately. I saw this new type of beehive and thought of you, have you seen it? https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/flow-hive-honey-on-tap-directly-from-your-beehive

  3. Joanne on 25 March, 2015 at 11:16 am said:

    Hi Amanda,
    Rod Pick from the RCMP passed on your website, as we met last week and he heard my hive had died. Do you sell nuc colonies? Or do you know of someone who does? I am on Saturna Island and am currently the only beekeeper here.
    Thanks!
    Joanne

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