A Day In the Life Of A Beekeeper

This blog post is dedicated to Lynda/Nana (my sweet mother in law) she was and is Charles/Pa-Paw’s (my father in law) “honey bee”.  Lynda took her bee wife responsibilities serious.  She helped Charles with the hives and even once helped chase down a hive.  Lynda was the past Secretary of the Yadkin Valley Bee Association.

I have never had an interest in bees or honey. Yet, funny enough, my name means “honey bee”.  I was the girl, when I was younger, who would run like a crazy person away from a bee.  I would run back in the house screaming, “the bees are trying to get me and I can not be a victim of bee violence”.  True story.

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I have to say, having a Beekeeper in the family I have learned quite a bit about the life a Beekeeper.  At the start of our spring break we took a short trip to North Carolina. Clint is from North Carolina and we needed to go back to check on my father in law, Charles, after the passing of my mother in law.  At first look I could tell Charles was not doing well.  Once I got him on beekeeping his face lit up, and I could not stop him from going into detail about his bees.  Charles has been around Beekeepers all his life.  His uncles were Beekeepers, and the hobby stuck for him.  Charles is the past President, and currently the Events Coordinator, of the Yadkin Valley Bee Association.

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Me: What is about beekeeping that interests you?

Charles: It started as a hobby when I was younger. My uncles were Beekeepers and I enjoyed watching them.  It is really amazing to watch bees work and protect the queen bee.  There is nothing lazy about a bee.

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Look mom, I got close enough to a bee to take the picture.  I have come a long way since childhood.

 

Me: Where do you get the bees from?

Charles: I buy my bees from a Pollinator in another county. When I first started I had to buy the bee boxes, wax, bees and all the machines to make the honey.  It is a very expensive hobby.

Me: How many hives do you take care of?

Charles: Currently, I do not have any hives because my bees left me. I have ordered 10 new hives and that will currently hold 60,000 bees and my goal is for my hives to grow to 120,000 bees.

Me: Wow, that is a lot of bees. You said “there is nothing lazy about a bee” what did you mean by that?

Charles: A hive consists of one queen bee, male drones and female workers. The queen’s job is to delegate out responsibilities to male drones and female workers. There are even sub jobs for the female workers.  For instance, a female worker could be a nurse mate and keep all the baby bees fed.  Female workers, work inside the hive, pollinate and assist in keeping the queen fed.  The male drones, on a typical day, just mate and eat.

Me: How long do bees live?

Charles: Female bees live about 30 days and male drones don’t live as long.

Me: How many hours, each week, do you spend on your bees?

Charles:About 10 hours, but in spring, summer and fall it is a lot more than 10 hours. You have to make sure they are fed. Within the hive you have to extract, clean and bottle the honey. Making the honey is really the most time consuming aspect of beekeeping.

Me: When you said, “All your bees left,” where did they go?

Charles: I have no idea. They had food and water. I honestly believe bees are being poisoned.  When bees go out to pollinate, they pick up chemicals from pesticides and insecticides.  I am not the only Beekeeper that has lost their hives.  This is becoming a real problem because, our bees are dying.  Cornell University did a study that indicated without the honeybee people will not survive.  We need to find a solution.

Me: What is one take away you want me to leave with about beekeeping?

Charles: Make sure you wear protective gear when you are messing with active hives, support your local beekeepers and remember there are lots of benefits to eating honey.

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This is half of Lynda/Nana’s bee suit. She would go out and help Charles with the bee hives.

 

 

I really had a great time learning and working with Charles on the bee hives.  Now, I might feel a little differently if 120,000 bees were swarming me. Beekeeping is a interesting hobby and I can not wait to go back and help Charles with the hives.

As Always,

Melissa Gayle

 

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