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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 16th year of beekeeping in April 2021. Now there are more than 1300 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. (678) 597-8443

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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.

  5. Hello, I was really encouraged to discover this site. The cause getting that this is these kinds of an educational put up. I desired to thank you for this insightful read through of the subject.
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