The reasons to bee a beekeeper are as varied as the keepers themselves. Just so you know, ‘bee’ puns are mandatory for all keepers. Sorry, you’ll get used to it. They (the reasons, not the puns) span the range between curiosity, relaxation, health, preparedness, and of course the golden crop at the end of the season. There are probably a number of other reasons too, but the first four reasons are the ones that drew me the most and are the ones I’ll be focusing on today as I tell you about my journey as a budding ‘beek’.
Why You Should Bee a Beekeeper
Curiosity and Learning
I really love to learn new things. It’s fascinating to me. I wasn’t actually always this way. Once upon a time, I was very close minded about a lot of different things. I learned things easily enough and retained a fair amount of interesting trivia and the like, but I wasn’t really interested in how things worked or why. Then I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and science became fascinating to me. The idea that someone understands ALL of it, and organized it to create the universe, that gets my brain firing. Back when I thought it was all random, I didn’t think order could really exist. I wasn’t interested in learning about a bunch of random phenomena.
Anyhow, random side-note about me aside… That sentence is probably making you cringe. Me too. One of the biggest draws for me about becoming a beekeeper was learning about the bees. The more I learned about them, the more amazed and intrigued I was. They’re incredible creatures. Their world is one of incredible detail and order, and they do so many things that the average person has no idea they’re even capable of. It’s an incredible world in there and learning about the bees quickly becomes a passion for most beekeepers.
There’s a sort of ‘zen’ to working with bees. A lot of your goal when working with the bees is to move smoothly and slowly. You flow from one task to the next in an unhurried, casual sort of way. It takes practice, but after a while, you can learn how to move so that the bees basically ignore your presence. They continue on about their business while you work with them. That’s not to say that if you suit up fully you won’t get some heat and a workout in the summer sun, but I usually come back from the bee yard feeling a healthy sort of amazed relaxation. A mix of the wonder of being amongst the bees and trying to attain that calm focus that allows me to ignore their flights and focus on keeping my motion in perfect control.
Many people don’t know it, but honey actually has an enormous list of medicinal benefits. Care2.com lists a short selection of them here. The interesting part is that those are just the benefits of store-bought honey. Honey from your own personal crop contains a drastically higher proportion of natural pollen from your local area, which adds to its medicinal value and protein content. Taking honey from a local source, unhomogenized by the major companies, is actually a functional treatment for common pollen allergens. By ingesting the small quantities of pollen in natural backyard honey, you slowly inoculate yourself against the influence of the local plants. Do you sneeze and snort all allergy season? Bees and their honey might be your solution.
This was actually our primary focus here at Zion Family Homestead. When Handyman started talking about gardening, and Perfection was raising goats, the bright idea came up to have someone become a beekeeper. I had never really been interested in bees before, but I did some reading and decided I would like to give it a go. Here is our reasoning:
If and when the world falls to pieces. The power goes out. Gasoline no longer flows at the pumps. Stores are sold out or robbed blind. You know, the whole end of the world scenario. Are you going to still have a sweet tooth?
How Beehives Help with Self-Sufficiency
We have been storing things like wheat and beans for a long while now, making certain to follow counsel from our church leaders to keep food storage wherever legal and possible. We could try and store sugar, too, but our hobby and goal is self-sufficiency and preparedness, right? Stored food isn’t self-sufficiency, it’s an emergency band-aid. It doesn’t allow us to help others, only to survive for a specific length of time on our own. So storing sugar isn’t as good as producing our own. Since we’re unlikely to start a cane sugar farm, beekeeping is a natural alternative.
Honey keeps forever (they found some stored in Egyptian pyramids, still edible) and provides all the sweetness you need. As mentioned previously, it has great uses for medicinal purposes, which is an important consideration for long-term self-sufficiency. Likewise, bees don’t only make honey, they also produce wax and propolis (more on that another time). I personally am looking forward to making my own beeswax candles, which are actually superior to the modern day paraffin candles, if a little more time consuming to make.
In other words, a few bee hives are some of the ultimate preparedness tools, unless you LIKE to eat your porridge in the dark… without sweetener… I guess…
My Beekeeping Journey
My journey has had some rocky starts. I’m on my third season as a beekeeper and boy have I made some terrible mistakes. Between the varroa mite that causes everyone so much trouble and my own ineptitude, I’ve lost a number of hives. I’ll probably share a lot more details as I go more in depth on solutions. This message is supposed to be about the reasons you WANT to be a beekeeper, not the things that you’ll have to overcome once you are. The plus side is that I’m learning, and still striving. I’m excited to be writing on the topic as I know it will help to keep my hives at the forefront of my mind – other projects have occasionally drawn me away and distracted me from my poor girls.