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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I like to read stories :)

I'm just interested to know how you all got started in beekeeping. What made you want to do it? Was it what you expected? What do you like most about it, what has been your favorite experience?

I've always been interested in bugs. When I was little, I'd watch the bees on my grandparents raspberry bushes. That was the first and only time I was stung by a bee, trying to pet one while it was working. I guess I pet it too hard :)

Two summers ago my cousin Kyle showed me his bees. He assured me I didn't need protective clothing, and opened up his hive. He pulled out a frame and showed me the queen, and I was just amazed, that I was standing in all these buzzing bees, not getting stung, watching them as they worked.

This past summer he showed me his harvested honey, and gave me some. I was pretty interested at this point, because the honey was amazing. But I still hadn't got the idea that I might be able to keep bees. That actually just came to me a few weeks ago, and now it's all I can think of!

So if you wouldn't mind, share with me your stories. Your best and worst of beekeeping!
 

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I started keeping bees because I had the idea I could make a living and get filthy, stinking, independently rich. Seriously.

What launched my interest in bees was "Entomology 222: Beekeeping" taught by Richard Trump at Iowa State University, spring quarter, 1979. I needed an easy class to raise my battered grade point average (too much beer and pizza). Mr. Trump inoculated me with this horrible affliction and the only cure is keeping bees.

I continued keeping bees because it was interesting, it got me out of the office, I got to spend some quality of time out in nature to feed my inner introvert, and because I made a little money on the side.

I am in beekeeping today because it's still not "work," it gets me out of the office and away from the drain on my inner introvert, connections me with my Creator, and with expansion over the years, I am making some serious money. Not rich in dollars, but wealthy beyond all comprehension and my wildest imagination with relationships, service opportunities, speaking engagements, etc.

I started when beekeepers were considered to be like the crazy lady in the rickity old house with a thousand cats (the one that smelled like urine, even when standing in the street). Today I'm treated like a guru. Locally, I'm the "honey dude."

Grant
Jackson, MO https://www.createspace.com/4152725
 

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I'm still not sure why I decided to keep bees. I was just returning home from a business trip to Montana and as I drove down the 2-lane country road I thought "Hey, I should have some bees." I've got 10 acres with a couple of nice ponds, a creek, a garden, and some fruit trees. If you're going to have a garden you need bees right? well, i started reading online, watching youtube, reading books, and visiting this place. Before too long I sourced my nucs and then really got into learning about bees. I had pet scorpions in college and I figured bees can't be any worse than them.

I figured 2 was a good place to start for someone that might or might now wants to have bees. I went into winter with 6 hives and no real aspirations to have more than that. Now that winter is dragging on longer and longer, i'm thinking more about expanding to a dozen or so hives and maybe half a dozen nucs. I still have no aspirations of making any type of money off of these little creatures. its just a hobby that i think is pretty neat. A crop share that I buy into did contact me about pollination, so I'm going to bring some hives out to the farm. the way I see it, I just got a free crop share and also an out-yard for bee manipulations :)

I'll use this season as a learning year for honey extraction and maybe get into bottling a little bit next year. if that works out alright I"ll set some out by the road, but I wouldn't expect to make anymore than about $50 in honey sales. That'll help offset some of the hobby costs, but it's clearly not the way to go get filthy rich.

Anyways, that's my story. It's not all that good of one, but that's the one I've got. I have set personal limits on this hobby starting at 5 hives. well, now that i have 6 the limit has shifted to 12. I'll quickly hit that number this year and then reason why it actually makes more sense to have double that. I think beehives are a lot like the potato chips. it's rather difficult to have just one, and a small handful really isn't satisfying.
 

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I think deep down most people keep bees because they are a glutton for punishment and are trying to win the gamble.
 

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Like most, I wanted more pollination in the vegetable garden. After I kept a few hive I realized my meager 5k sqft garden was rather silly to think that the bees would really stop there.

Now I keep bees because I really enjoy it. I am always facinated by the hive dynamics. Plus, I now make extra money from my bees. I have been averaging 3-5K a year in honey, bees, and hive sales.
 

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I started after watching a documentary about the recent decline in bee populations. I am sure it has been going on over the years, but it was just brought to my attention.
Anyhow, it got me to thinking that I haven't seen a bee in my yard for some time and wondered if I could do something about it. I figured... one hive would be cool to have. That one hive idea lasted about three weeks. Swarm call after swarm call and removlas put me over 6 hives real quick.
Once I got into it, very quickly I realized there was a win/win situation for the bees and myself. Being a residential -commercial builder, I did some research and found that a lot of beekepers are willing to remove bees from structures, but were not so willing or capable to repair the damage that as caused by the removal.

Thus, the HONEY B GUYS were created.

It does offset all the costs associated with beekeeping and helps with Christmas gifts.
This year we will actually sell honey in which the profits will be put back into the company.
 

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I like to read stories :)

I'm just interested to know how you all got started in beekeeping. What made you want to do it? Was it what you expected? What do you like most about it, what has been your favorite experience?
My Great Uncle kept bees when I was a little kid. I have memories of going to his house and seeing the hives out next to his huge garden. I remember his home-made solar wax melter sitting next to his driveway. At that young age, I had absolutely no interest in bees. I never inquired about them. Now, almost 40 years later, I wish that I would have asked him how he did it. Things were much different then....no Varroa mites, no CCD, no hive beetles.

So now flash forward about 38 years. I was sitting in my hooch on a U.S. military base in a town called Ar-Ramadi, Iraq. This was the hot spot of Iraq in the early days of the war. I had a lot of time on my hands after duty hours. You can only pass so much time at the dining hall or the gym. A few years earlier, I had brought the subject of honey bees up with my father. He lives on a nice little farm in the Pocono Mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania. We talked about placing some hives on the property, but it never panned out. While in Iraq, I decided to make a go of this strange new hobby when I returned. It's amazing of the things that you wish you would have done and things that you regret doing when you are in an environment like that.

I spent my free time on the internet reading anything that I could find on the subject of honey bees. How to get started....what equipment was needed....where to get bees. I ordered books from Amazon.com. I watched videos. When I finally returned home in late June 2011, I found myself returning to a divorce and trying to cope with that stress, PLUS trying to transition myself back into a normal life. I made the decision that I would set up the hives and start this new hobby the following year....Spring 2012. When January 2012 arrived, I was excited to have found a bee club that sold honey bees and a supplier that was about an hour and a half drive from home. I drove there one day and bought everything that I would need to start 4 hives. Of course being new, you forget a few things, but nothing major to hold me back. When April 15th came, I went and picked up my packaged bees. My dad and the rest of my family were just as excited about this as I was. They were all there when I got back with the packages. It didn't take long to install them. As with all new beekeepers, I wanted to be in those hives all of the time. One thing that an old beekeeper told me was that I would learn patience.

Beekeeping became therapeudic for me. I was able to relieve the stress of life. I learned a lot that summer. My hives flourished. I know that you are not supposed to take any honey that first year, but I took about 30 pounds. Just enough to bottle some 2 lb jars for gifts for the family. When we came out of winter in the Spring of 2013, all 4 hives had survived. I added 6 more hives last year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You are all awesome. Thanks for sharing with me. It makes me really look forward to getting my bees! And it's so cool how everyone has a different story. I love it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
somebody needs to come up with a 12 step program


Don
I'm afraid of this! I have an addictive personality, and the fact that I can get pain (stings) and pleasure(honey) all in one has me hooked before I have even started! Haha.
 

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With the sudden upsurge in beekeeping, the CDC has recently classified beekeeping as a contagious mental illness. "Bee Fever" has been well documented for at least the last 150 years. When you look at how many people were chosen by the bees (A.I. Root comes to mind, but I've met many others over the years) it's obviously a plot by the bees. Bees can take over your mind and therefore your life. Your only real hope is to run away quickly if you find yourself getting caught up in it. Stay away from bees. If you have to be around bees, wear a foil hat so they can't take over your mind. Just when my Bee Fever was subsiding, Varroa showed up... and I become reobsessed...
 

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Because I'm single, and I'm homeshored at work, and I live out in the middle of nowhere. Its half an hour drive to get into town.

So same reason that I also run a small orchard, vineyard, and garden. I'm bored out of my skull.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
With the sudden upsurge in beekeeping, the CDC has recently classified beekeeping as a contagious mental illness. "Bee Fever" has been well documented for at least the last 150 years. When you look at how many people were chosen by the bees (A.I. Root comes to mind, but I've met many others over the years) it's obviously a plot by the bees. Bees can take over your mind and therefore your life. Your only real hope is to run away quickly if you find yourself getting caught up in it. Stay away from bees. If you have to be around bees, wear a foil hat so they can't take over your mind. Just when my Bee Fever was subsiding, Varroa showed up... and I become reobsessed...
Hilarious! I'll start sleeping with that foil hat on because I have been dreaming about bees every single night LOL.
 

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At age 5 I had been stung once, thought bees were evil, and would kill them on sight. But with age, I've decided they are fascinating. I don't feel this way about insects generally (I have a deep-rooted phobia of ****roaches that I've learned to control). To me, bees and especially honeybees are so different they hardly register as insects to my subconscious. Their complex behavior is part of it. Fuzzy probably helps. Face it, they are charismatic.

Funny thing is, I feel the same about spiders, which will send many people screaming. They fascinate me. I've also liked herptiles since my teens. When I tell people that last year I rescued four copperheads, they look at me in disbelief.

Since then I've gotten a degree in biology (which has never been much of a factor in my professional life, although the associated science courses have). But now that I am retired, my long-term interests in this field can now become an avocation.

I've always wanted to try keeping bees, but that could only happen if my wife agreed. She was Not Interested until she signed up for Master Gardener training. The Teaching Garden where they train has several hives operated by the local beekeepers' association, and she started to appreciate them during her classes. She decided she might want to try. Our stock broker got wind of it and invited us to his home to see his backyard hive (he has a couple of outyards as well). She borrowed an inspector's jacket and they dove in to the hive, with me a short distance away, no protection, but not worried. I was watching as she fell in love with the little rascals. We missed the window to sign up for bee school last year, but joined the association and have been getting ready for a year. The hives are in the garage, and two nucs are on order.
 

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When I was about 8 I dug up a bumblebee nest while building a fort. I transferred it into the wooden box two pounds of cheese came in. When it started getting too populous my mother made me move it away from the back door and it was my first outyard. I just have always loved bees.
 

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Why I keep Bees.
Another one of my hobbies is photography, primarily Macro. I enjoy snapping insects, flowers…etc. To help drawn in insects to my property, I had planted some butterfly bushes, which worked great. I got great pictures of butterflies, honey bees…etc. Then the next year I noticed I had not seen one honey bee. I had no idea the serious nature and future of the honey bee. I ended up taking a class on Honey bees\beekeeping and had questioned the instructor on my observation. She said someone near me probably had a hive that no longer does, because you will not find feral bees in our area. That stuck a cord in me and I realize I may be able to help no matter how small.
My first year I started with two hives (packages) that didn’t even make it to the fall. Last year I started with two again (nucs,) and had a great season. I stole 31 lbs of delicious honey. Both hives went into winter with the top deep full.. Last Sunday, (got to 40 degrees) I saw both hives out and about. I have two more nucs coming, so I’m hoping for 4 hives this year, fingers crossed.
My neighbors actually leave patches of clover on their lawns for the bees and assure me they don’t swat at them and are careful with pesticides, if they are use it at all. I gave away most of my honey to my neighbors too. They certainly helped me. I was surprised my neighbors took such ownership in protecting and helping the honeybee. I’m sure that is rare
For me, it is a very rewarding hobby.
 

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Needed more pollinators for apples and vegetables so took up bees and beekeeping last year.

Some years we got lucky with the timing of the apple blossoms and arrival of neighborhood bees and some years
we didn't. The years when the trees blossomed earlier than normal were almost always a total loss from lack of pollinators.

An added bonus last year was a bumper crop of winter squash, cucumbers and 30 lbs of wildflower honey.
 

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My Dad made me do it.:digging:
Second generation honey producer. Sold my first ton of honey when I was 8 years old. The stories is not how you got into the business, more like how did you stay in it for you whole life.:scratch: Been able to see the ind. change in so many ways, just like the changes in life.
 

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I must agree with the photography. Years ago I took pictures for art's sake. I didn't have much equipment and did not have macro capability, but I took pictures for fun. Then I started lab photography. I had better equipment including close-up rings, but took pictures only for work. I bought a better camera for home, but my wife took it over. And film photography always had a delay between the click and the reward.

Now I'm digital, with two Nikon DSLRs, a very good Canon HD video camera, close-up-filters, microscopes, telescopes, game cameras, dashcams, you name it, retired, and with time to enjoy photography again. But now the Pavlovian effect is more effective ... you hear the click, and look down at the screen, and your reward is optimally timed to encourage the behavior to be reinforced. Photo editing and video editing, with features the pros did not have when I started photography, are now cheap and easy to use.

Bees, including native bees and wasps, have been some of my favorite subjects over the last year.
 
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