My introduction to the life of bees and what it is like to be a beekeeper all came directly from The Dude, my dad. There never was a time that we did not have hives in the backyard or a pot of honey on our kitchen table! His bee yards were his offices and they all provided grand broad views of the prairie. He went off to work everyday with a lunch pail strapped on the back of a moped. What is not to like about that! Yet, I went to college, got a business degree and lived in a big city working for a large bank. That went well for a few years but the pull and appeal of doing something ‘real’ kept nudging me towards a return to my roots and to try my hand at making a living keeping bees. It has been ten years now and I am still at it and still learning. I am proud to say I am a beekeeper! When I am not beekeeping have been known to run marathons from Dublin to Vegas, and many triathlons in between. I feel that my work with bees, especially today, impact communities far beyond my hives.
Here in North Dakota, there is a higher concentration of beekeepers, making us the number one honey producing state in the nation. We are a dedicated and determined few and with all the changes in beekeeping practices our job has become a challenging one. As in other parts of the country we see the changes in agricultural land use. More corn, soybeans and canola are planted and every year, more set aside acres (CRP) are put into crop production and the increasing toxicity and use of insecticides and genetically modified seeds, that harbor neonicotinoids, all take a toll on honeybee health and rob our colonies of vital foraging and pollination opportunities. With respect and concern we look into our hives and see the fragile balance of their collective lives and we realize that the well being of these amazing creatures relies not only on beekeepers but the continued focus and awareness of the general public, bee research and legislation. We can start in our own backyards by planting Bee Friendly Zones, simply plant bee friendly flowers, stop using pesticides then put a sign in the middle of your chosen patch that says BFZ . . .your neighbors might ask about it and then plant one too. Take a class in beekeeping, visit an apiary and stay informed on current issues pertaining to bees. Whatever you do, support local bees and your local beekeepers! We are both worth it.
The Next Generation