Q&A Interview with an an Ohioan Beekeeper
Bees have been dying at rates unseen in history. Just in 2015-16 alone, our nation’s beekeepers lost 44 percent of their honey bee colonies.
At Beedewy, we believe in not only promoting holistic beauty practices but we're also committed to giving back to the environment. Bees play a significant role in our agricultural food system as well as animal and human survival.
Educating consumers on the significant role these precious pollinators play in our ecosystem is the first step to raising awareness and taking collective action towards giving back to the bees.
We had the honor to do a Q&A interview with Jesse James, an Ohioan based professional videographer with a passionate hobby in beekeeping.
Tell us a bit about yourself? What is your background and what made you decide to get into beekeeping?
I grew up in Ohio, so I've always been exposed to agriculture and the way of farm life. In my teen years, my mother and I moved in with my grandparents to take care of them, they live on a rather large farm in the countryside. It was then when I was introduced to beekeeping. My grandfather often had me assist him with projects around the farm, and he was just getting back into beekeeping at the time. And having him as one of my greatest influences, I followed in his footsteps.
What is an interesting fact about bees that most people don't know about?
An interesting fact about bees that took me by surprise is that bees will travel 2 miles (in some cases farther) just to forage for pollen. That's a long ride for such a tiny, but determined, animal!
Bonus fact: Honey is one of the healthiest products you can eat. There are so many benefits to it. Although, when it is heated up, it loses all the benefits and antioxidants. This is why the healthy solution is to buy local bee farmers honey. If you buy honey from a store, chances are it has been heated, but local bee farmers do not heat their honey.
What does your day to day beekeeping operation look like? Do you harvest any other byproducts besides honey? How much honey can I expect from one hive?
Day to day life as a beekeeper can range from being very passive to very busy. Usually, if you do not disturb the bees, they'll thrive and produce. Though, you do have to check on them from time to time to make sure that operations are running smoothly. Day to day difficulties can include an infestation of hive beetles, a knocked over hive from a bad storm (this has only happened once to me), or them running out of food.
I actually harvest no other byproducts.
The expected amount can range highly depending on the conditions. Ideally, the goal is about 20-40 gallons. But in recent years, that has been far out of reach.
Is beekeeping dangerous? What are some precautions to take for someone that might have a severe bee allergy?
I believe that beekeeping isn't dangerous if you are calm and gentle with them. Some days bees can be angry and territorial, but for the most part, they are mellow. I normally do not wear any protective wear other than a veil and maybe gloves. For someone who has a severe bee allergy, I would suggest investing in high-quality suits, just to be safe. Also, try to be cautious and gentle with them, and only work with them in the early mornings and late evenings. They can become aggressive in the heat of the day/hot periods.
What are some of your personal observations as to why the bee population is declining?
I live in Ohio, which around every corner is a cornfield. There are endless miles of farmland here. As No-Till farming has been introduced, the bee population has reduced greatly. The use of pesticides is one of the greatest battles of having bees. Since bees can travel up to 2 miles from their hive in search of pollen, this means that if your hive is within two miles of farmland that uses pesticide, your bees will travel there and bring the toxic pollen back to the hive. Which makes the entire hive sick. Another massive battle with bees is hive beetle infestations. There are traps you can use and methods of filtering out the beetles, but usually, it isn't effective.
What can we do as a consumer to help improve the bees livelihood? Where and how can we support causes that benefit bees?
I would say to support the cause would be to buy local honey. Stay away from store bought honey, and just support the local farmers. This motivates bee farmers and seeing the support and empathy definitely boosts morale. Also, bring this to the attention of our government. If we're using pesticides on our farmland that is infecting animals, how can that be healthy for us?
If you would like to give back to the bees, please visit The Honey Bee Conservancy to make a donation.
Give back to these precious pollinators by helping fund bee sanctuaries around the United States. We hope to continue raising awareness on the endangerment of bees due to the colony collapse disorder so that collective action is possible.
You can also follow Jesse James on Instagram @jessethejames.