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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    John Day River, OR
    Posts
    129

    Default Raising bees and Raising a Family

    Hi,
    My wife and I have been growing our operation for the last few years. We currently run about 120 hives. We have done almonds the last two years and fruit pollination on our way home for summer. We are selling some nucs and queens, making honey, and trying to figure out our way around the business. We are fortunate to have access to some great mentors who have helped us get a toe in the door in a lot of ways.
    Just a couple weeks ago we celebrated the arrival or our first child, a little boy. We are super excited and having a blast as new parents.
    My wife helped me in the beeyard up to the last week of her pregnancy, although her lifting slowed down. As I make the rounds feeding and prepping for winter, it is starting to hit me what big changes this means.

    I have heard from plenty of people how hard migratory beekeeping is on families, but I know several people have done it successfully. For those of you with families, how do you do it?
    Also, my wife really loves working bees. I know we will have to make sacrifices to make this work, but I know she will want to stay in the bees as much as possible. We have been joking about bringing a pack-n-play and a truck net (simple bee-resistant space) to the bee yard next year so we can all work and keep an eye on the kid. Have any of you raised toddlers around your business? I would love some input and ideas.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Miami, Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    8,001

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    I'm not pollination migratory as your talking but I am raising a fam on a bee farm. Don't ever not put in your time, or the business will suffer but also don't work the hives just for the sake of working...I find myself caught in that rut with the farm many times. It's a habit hard to break. As for the bees around the kids... they learn. My yard is a cloud of bees at times, and the family just accepts it and carries on with life.
    Good luck with the little one!
    Cheers

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Lebanon Pa
    Posts
    368

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    andwhen your son is 3 years old and criesand cries that he wants to come with to help work the bees then you get to the bee yard and he dosent want to suit up or get out of the truck dont leave your paint marker in the ash tray my son had a bash coloring all over my truck and its all still there needless to say if he wants to come with now his but is helping and not sitting in the truck lol
    who knows maybe he will love it more than you or hate it

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    East Windsor, CT
    Posts
    321

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    Just curious, are bees your families sole income or is there an outside income as well? Thanks,
    -Dave

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Sidney, Montana, USA
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Don't ever not put in your time, or the business will suffer but also don't work the hives just for the sake of working..
    Cheers
    There is a lot of wisdom in that sentence.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Sidney, Montana, USA
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    I have some thoughts they may or may not apply. First I work with a lot of guys from Oregon I know that depending on what other skills you have jobs might be slim in some parts of Oregon. I will be the first to tell you that being away from your family is not easy but neither is not being able to pay the bills . That is the position I was in . I picked paying the bills. My wife and I occasionally discuss if it would have been better to figure out how to get by on a lot less and be together , maybe , that is a whole other discussion . There is nothing you can do that makes being away from the family easy. but there is a lot you can do to make it a little better. it helps for me if I keep in mind that this is a temporary situation and that we are working towards something . every situation is a little different but I would say while you are gone spend every hour you can working and when you are home spend as much time as you can with the family.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    New Albany, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    815

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    Cherish the time with your children and family. Commercial beekeeping is not for every family, but if you are fortunate to have a wife that enjoys the bees as much as you do, there is no better wife or family, IMHO.

    For our son, we try not to push beekeeping. If he takes up beekeeping, great, if not, my only wish is that he finds something he enjoys... There are some really nice bee suits for kids and we try to find activities in the business that he enjoys.
    Breeder Queens & Honey Bee Nutritional Supplements
    www.latshawapiaries.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    FRASER VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA
    Posts
    1,690

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    I am happy for the both of you that you both enjoy working with the bees. I think she may be a rare find. All joking aside you will have to come up with practical solutions if you want to work bees and be together.

    In my case we have decided to produce honey in an area far from home. We have buildings there but no house. Rather than rent an apartment, next year, we will get a camping trailer for the property. It will be more comfortable than the hotels, easier to make our own meals with a far better view. My wife does not enjoy working with bees but she does enjoy camping, something that we have done very little in the last 20 plus years because of the time commitment needed to work bees. By coming up with an answer that everybody can live with, I think being away from home will be far more enjoyable for all concerned. I do not especially enjoy being away from the Mrs. She did not especially like coming because of the hotel situation... now we will have something we can look forward too and the business will benefit from my presence there.

    Jean-Marc

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    4,406

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    Here's my 2 cents on working and keeping an eye on the kid.... no work will get done......

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Lebanon Pa
    Posts
    368

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    ha ha

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Miami, Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    8,001

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    Jean-Marc, I do the same. The wife and kids camp for a few weeks during the heart of extraction. I "commute" back and forth during that time to sleep in the camper with the fam. Usually leave before the kids awake, and get back for the last log on the campfire but still there...and occasionally get the weekend if it's rainy

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Clarkfield, Minnesota
    Posts
    103

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    Your situation is not unique to bee keeping .....it is just life. How you deal with children and your career choices are up to you, but I promise if you have a little try and are flexible you can have both. I'm a veterinarian and my husband a farmer/rancher. We've chosen to include our children in everything we do and have since they were babes. My 1 week old daughter took her first bottle in surgery prep because a procedure went longer than anticipated, both babes pulled many car-seat-all-nighters in dad's tractor so this mom could sleep, we bought a good jogging stroller with all-terrain wheels and a bug net for chores, both kids learned to walk pulling themselves along lambing jugs. You get the idea. We could have used a sitter or worked in shifts but we chose to do what we love, our lives' callings, and raise our children. It won't be easy but you'll do fine.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    ceredigion (yes, its a county in West Wales UK)
    Posts
    135

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    The bee proof tent idea is a non starter as there will be times you cannot get to your baby without bees being on/ around you.
    I have several children and a couple of hundred hives and generally try and avoid mixing family and bees. The older kids do have suits and I show them what it's about occasionally but try and avoid pushing it down their throats. I keep the bees and do the processing away from home and do most of the extracting in the evenings when the family's asleep.
    Good luck

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    groveton tx
    Posts
    265

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    We run a multi-state full migratory bee operation and I have always brought my wife and kids with me. Public school in south dakota home school in Texas. I would go insane with out their support. My 10 year old son has help load and unload many semis, pull honey, and split bees. The other 2 kids don't enjoy the bees so much.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    John Day River, OR
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    Gosh that is about the wisest advice you could give to just about anyone, family or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Don't ever not put in your time, or the business will suffer but also don't work the hives just for the sake of working...
    Thanks everyone for the input. I didn't really think a bee-proof tent was a good idea.
    In response to twgun, While many issues of time management are not unique to beekeeping, there are parts of beekeeping that really are unique. A rancher can keep a toddler in the tractor or harvester with them, I don't think you will find many beekeepers hauling around a 1 year old on the forklift while they load out trucks. Also, beekeepers are on the road a lot, and as Ian mentioned, often work dawn to dusk and sometimes well into the night.

    Right now, I am not planning on growing much next season. Instead, I will focus on getting caught up on equipment, and really learning the level I am at, getting a little ahead on finances and growing again in another year or so. My sites are set at running about a semi-load. Currently bees are not my only income. I do some freelance/contract work as a fish biologist, also help build and fix fence, carpentry, and whatever else I can find.
    The past few years I have gone to California with Vazza Farms. Vince helps me rent our bees and We help Vince grade and equalize his hives pre-bloom, and shake bees and pull brood after the bloom. The experience has been un-paralleled and really accelerated my learning curve. In the past my wife and I have gone south together, worked together, stayed in crummy hotel, and between the two trips, been gone for over a month. This year, I probably will focus on working my own bees, getting it done, and getting home. But I think in the future we will probably invest in a travel trailer and make it a "camping trip."

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    FRASER VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA
    Posts
    1,690

    Default Re: Raising bees and Raising a Family

    Good for you Ian. We pretty much all agree families are number 1 but that the business requires a lot of attention. Personally I spent too much time at the business at the expense of the family.I did not spend as much time with them when they were growing up as I would have liked too. My wife did the lion's share of the work. Did the best I could given the circumstances.

    Jean-Marc

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