I’m a Keeper — Beekeeping for Myself and All of Us

I have spent most of my adult life as a professional activist and strategist working in the political trenches. Like many people, there was a point a few years ago when I found myself with no balance in my life. My life was all about being engaged in the national political fight.

Being consumed by the negativity of the political fighting took its toll on me. All areas of my life suffered, and I ended up in near total professional and personal collapse. That’s when I realized that I needed to direct my efforts in more diverse directions to achieve more positive outcomes. Striking a positive balance is important in our civic engagement, and in all areas of our lives. (I’ve written about that before here.)

Now, I make an effort to do things to help others outside of the political arena, and I also do things that are just for my benefit. Recently, I found a hobby that does both! I’ve decided to take up beekeeping!

Here I am installing my first package of bees into a top bar beehive I made.

Beekeeping gives me a personal sense of accomplishment and I’m doing something to help the greater good, too. Bees and other pollinators are important to our survival. They do so much good in performing their critical role in maintaining in our food supply by pollenating over a third of the food we eat.

Bees have faced some adversity in doing their important work in recent years. Pesticides, genetically modified crops, pollution, and other modern challenges have threaten the survival of honey bees and other pollinators. It’s important for all of us to do what we can to support them and give them a healthy environment to do their work in keeping nature’s life-cycle in balance.

I have chosen to go “all in” by keeping a hive of Italian honeybees, but there are things that all of us can do to support them without having a beehive in your yard. For instance, if you have a yard or outdoor space, you can plant flowers for the pollinators to eat their nectar and pollen. You can also make a waterer for them. I found instructions for making this simple and attractive waterer here.

I’m proud that my beekeeping helps to support our environment and food supply, but I’m also grateful for all that I’m learning from the bees. They are fascinating! Did you know that even though there’s a “queen bee” that a bee colony is actually a democracy? The make decisions together.

When a swarm of bees is looking for a new place to build a hive, they send out scouts to search for appropriate available locations. The scouts come back to the swarm with their recommendation, then the other scouts go out to inspect each of the options. After careful inspection of all the possible locations, the scouts come to agreement on where to build their new hive.

That’s right. Each scout inspects the possible locations for themselves and then they agree on the best, most suitable place. I think Americans can learn a lot from the bees! That’s just one of the many things I’ve learned about the bees. The honey is tasty too!

Beekeeping has become my way to gain personal benefit while doing something to help society. There are many other things that we can do that accomplish the same thing. Art, for example, is something that many people do for their own enjoyment, and it’s something that we can all enjoy too! Writing is another one, and so is gardening. The list is endless.

We should all find activities that benefit us as individuals that also benefit the greater good. That’s an important component in striking that poistive balance in our civic engagement, and our lives in general.