The Book of Proverbs has wisely advised people to go to the ant. For a good portion of my life, I’ve gone to the honeybee. You see, my dad is a beekeeper. (Wait for it–he is about to share some fascinating things about this fun pastime.)
As I teenager, I put on all the protective garb and watched/helped him manage his hives. Tasting the honey from a freshly-robbed beehive is an unforgettable treat. I fondly remember the year Dad installed an observation hive (a glass-encased hive) in my bedroom–who needed video games or MTV. Even at the age of 74, he still keeps a few hives. And he continues to learn new things about this fascinating creature.
So I thought it would be cool to interview him and let him tell you–in his own words–more about this exciting hobby and this amazing little insect.
How long have you been keeping honeybees?
- Been keeping honeybees around 30 years.
What’s the largest number of hives you’ve had at any one time?
- I’ve maintained 15 hives.
What is the greatest amount of honey you’ve harvested at any one time?
- One time from 13 hives (2 did not make a surplus) I had a little over 55 gallons of honey !!
Besides eating it, what do you do with the honey?
- The only thing I do with honey (besides eating it) is selling it and give some away to family. Honey has many health benefits; such as, helping allergies, healing wounds, heart disease, arthritis, bladder infections, colds, sore throats, indigestion, upset stomach, skin infection, fatigue (energy booster), burns and etc.
What interests you the most about this hobby?
- The most interesting thing to me is that God (not evolution) created such an insect to have within its colony a complex lifestyle. There is only one queen (she is only an egg laying machine, except for her pheromone she does not rule); thousands of worker bees (infertile); a few hundred drones (only function is to mate with a virgin queen when needed). The queen and drones have to be fed by the worker bees. They have a system to cool their hive, a system of dancing to show fellow bees where to collect nectar (turned into honey), and they collect pollen, propolis, and water. It’s the only insect that makes a food that mankind can eat.
Share with us one amazing fact about the honeybee.
- One amazing fact about the honeybee is that 1/3 of all our food is pollinated by honeybees. God created the honeybee with its main function to be a pollinator not a collector of honey as most people think.
How are honeybees important to humanity and/or the environment?
- Honeybees are important to humanity and to the environment as mentioned above in the value to our health and to our agriculture. All the almond trees in California (hundreds of thousands of them) have to have honeybees for pollination. The honeybees are trucked in from other states.
Briefly tell us how a person can get started in beekeeping or learn more about.
- To get started as a beekeeper, start reading all the literature you can; look it up on your computer. Call your local Cooperative Extension Service Office and they can get you in touch with their University. They can also get you in touch with local and/or state beekeepers associations, which one can join and attend regular meetings. Also attend beekeeping short courses that are held. Also get to know an experienced beekeeper you can call for advice.
How are you involved with educating people about beekeeping?
- I have been involved in educating people about honeybees by having an observation hive in my office window (bees going and coming to the hive behind glass—kids loved it), and I have organized several short courses, bringing in some knowledgeable people from UGA about important subjects such as: diseases and pests and classes on introductory beekeeping and honey plants etc. I was instrumental in re-building our website: www. chattahoocheebeekeepers.com and as past president and now as secretary/treasurer of the Chattahoochee Valley Beekeepers Association and as a member of the Georgia Beekeepers Association. I get calls from our members about bee problems and will go and look in their hives and give advice.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview with my father. If you have an interest in this hobby, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind answering your questions. His name is Duane Johnson, and you can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org