Beth The Bee Keeper

Erik the beekeeperErik tending to one of the hives

Our Campaign Support Specialist Beth and her roommate Erik have what some people might consider an interesting hobby—they’re beekeepers! The bee population worldwide is in grave danger. In the past ten years, more than ten million hives have been lost, often due to colony collapse disorder, which has been linked to pesticide use, among other environmental factors, and leads to worker bees deserting their hive, leaving the queen with only immature bees. Beekeeping is now a more important pastime than ever; healthy hives means plants are getting pollinated and guarantee a greater variety of species.

“Erik has been doing bees for years,” Beth said. “This summer will be our second year. [Erik] thinks it is ‘cool’ and he wants to do his part for the environment. In his previous living arrangement he couldn’t have bees due to space. When he moved to my house there was tons of land so he could put the hives up.”

Currently they have two hives and soon will be getting another. Each hive has one swarm of thousands of bees. “Erik did tell me that he has let 2 swarms go because we had so many,” she said. “But this is a good thing because we are adding to the bee population!” And while she hasn’t noticed a change in her yard, as they’ve “always had lots of green around the house,” the bees head out during the day to gather food and pollinate the local flora, coming back at dusk to rest for the night.

For all the potential rewards, the workload for Erik, who is the primary bee caretaker in their household, is pretty minimal. Beth says that setting up the hives is the hardest part, as it involves building frames, setting up the hives themselves, and obtaining bees. They purchased theirs from a bee farmer. Luckily, Virginia, where Beth and Erik live, offers monetary incentives to people who want to raise bees through their Beehive Grant program. They will reimburse the cost of set-up and building materials up to $200 per hive and $2,400 per individual a year.

But obviously, the most important question is when will they get to taste sweet, sweet honey from their own backyard? “You don’t get honey the first year because the bees have to build up their food source for a year. We should start to get honey this year since they have created enough food sources,” Beth said.

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