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I've been keeping this blog for nine years and I began my 10th year of beekeeping in April 2015. Now there are about 1250 posts on this blog. . Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

Even if you find one post on the subject, I've posted a lot on basic beekeeping skills like installing bees, harvesting honey, inspecting the hive, etc. so be sure to search for more once you've found a topic of interest to you. And watch the useful videos and slide shows on the sidebar. All of them have captions. Please share posts of interest via Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

Need help with an Atlanta area swarm? Visit Found a Swarm? Call a Beekeeper.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why Do I Keep Bees?

I get asked that a lot.  Last Saturday the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers taught a short course and I'm sure I was asked that question at least three times.  On Thursday night I gave a talk on Keeping Bees the Simple Way at the Forsyth County beekeepers meeting, and I started the talk by telling my usual answer to that question:

I keep bees because I wanted to keep chickens.  I read up on what one must do in Atlanta to keep  chickens - how they had to be housed a certain distance from your neighbor's house, what you needed to do to leave them for a while to go out of town, what to do with the waste they create.  But my children who live here said they would not be chicken-sitters when I went out of town; I couldn't quite meet the regs when it came to distance from my neighbors, and I didn't want to deal with chicken ****.

I was driving one Saturday morning, listening to the Walter Reeves show on the radio and he had a beekeeper for a guest.  She was talking about the joys of beekeeping and announced that there were three upcoming short courses in the Atlanta area.  My ears perked up and I listened to her every word!  The first course was on a weekend I couldn't go and in a place way south of Atlanta.  The second course was on another weekend when I already had commitments and was also in a location pretty far away.  The third course was offered by the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers at the Chattahoochee Nature Center on the only Saturday I was available.

I pulled over to the side of the road, called the number she had given for registration, and signed up.  Bees are legal all over the state of Georgia; they don't need bee-sitters when you go out of town; and bees take care of their own tiny, tiny bodily waste products.

I went to the course; fell in love; came home and ordered bees and equipment.  And that's the story.

That's why I started keeping bees but not why I keep bees.

I think I need to change the answer to that frequently asked question.

I keep bees because bees are fascinating in so many ways.  Among them:

  • Bees live in a society that runs democratically and well.  With the help of a thoughtful, careful beekeeper, they can thrive in a man made hive box.  
  • Working the bees requires moving slowly, something I rarely do in the rest of my life, and feels zen-like in the slow motion of inspecting the hive - the bees bring me serenity and peace
  • Working the bees requires respect for the bees and the hive to work the bees well
  • I love the miracle of the reproduction of the hive - 
    • they can make a new queen if they need to; 
    • they create males if they need them (and get rid of them in the fall when they don't need them!); 
    • the hive itself reproduces the community as a whole in the process of swarming
  • Honey is the only food consumed by humans that is created by insects and it is such a delectable miracle!
  • The taste of honey varies with the flowers from which the bees gather the nectar, creating a wine-tasting like experience when tasting various honeys
  • Bees are soft furry creatures and when they walk on my hands, I am intrigued by their tiny bodies
  • Bees use their bodies in so many ways - 
    • they create wax for the honey comb from their abdomen; 
    • they pass nectar from bee to bee with their proboscis, 
    • they use their wings (among other things) for 
      • hive ventilation, 
      • drying the nectar to create honey, 
      • flying to flowers and back to the hive, 
    • they communicate with each other in the pitch dark of the hive through dancing and sharing
Richard Taylor has written about how the bee yard is a place of quiet reflection and I resonnate with his thoughts about that every time I open a bee hive and spend time with the bees.


  1. Beautifully expressed Linda. I feel the same way about bees, they are infinitely fascinating and I fell in love with the very first hive I started. I love watching them, I love the smell of the hives when I work them, I likewise love slowing down to be in the present with them. And of course, I love in my own small way, contributing to the health of a few thousand of these important little creatures that are in crisis.

  2. I too love the smell of the bee hive - and the smell of my car when I am driving around with bee equipment in the back.

  3. Hi I just found your blog and see we have alot in common. I am a 3rd year bee Keeper and LOVE your blog!

    You should check my blog out and FOLLOW if you like I always FOLLOW back!

  4. I love the smell in my car to, in fact I often keep waxy bars in my car on purpose, just to have that divine scent floating around me. . . Lovely post Linda.

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