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!