Every month, Nectarist visits bees with an experienced beekeeper. By sharing their story, they and we hope to convince other people to give bees a home or to inspire other beekeepers.
Every month, Nectarist visits bees with an experienced beekeeper. By sharing their story, they and we hope to convince other people to give bees a home or to inspire other beekeepers. For our first edition in March we went to Sint-Katelijne-Waver where Lynn lives and practices her job as a beekeeper for three years now.
How did you come up with the idea to become a beekeeper?
I work in Bio Planet. Johan had placed two beehives in the parking lot of that store. A colleague of mine in Leuven also had a beehive and was a beekeeper himself, so I went to see what it was all about and whether I would like it myself. Our also allows to place beehives without disturbing other people.
How did every one around you react to your new hobby?
In the beginning I was especially afraid of my three dogs. I didn't know how they were going to react to those bees and vice versa. Maybe those bees would flock to it. Ultimately, that was never an issue.
I have informed our neighbors that we have bees. I explained that bees don't really bother you when you are eating outside, for example. All they do is sit on the flowers. In the end, they certainly thought it was okay.
How did you acquire your knowledge of beekeeping?
I didn't take a beekeeping course, I just jumped right into it. I did read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies to acquire the right knowledge. I also joined several Facebook groups at the time, but all those differing opinions and visions confused me before.
I didn't really have a godfather or godmother, but I could contact my colleague and of course Johan for all my questions. Having a contact person to rely on makes things way easier. Especially if that person has installed similar beehives.
How big is that step to become an operating beekeeper?
I see a lot of people familiarize themselves with beekeeping for years, reading in and following courses about bees. Everyone has a different view on beekeeping, so I've tackled it in another way. Above all, you have to decide for yourself how quickly you want to go through that learning process.
Is beekeeping a big investment?
In the end these went rather well. I bought the starter pack from Nectarist and it was certainly affordable in terms of price. Money was not really a barrier for me to start beekeeping. I also only bought two beehives, so it wasn't such a big investment.
Do you harvest your own honey?
Yes, I bought my first colony in June 2016. Those bees have survived the winter, so I have been able to harvest a lot of honey. I store my produced honey in small jars and hand it out to friends and family. A very nice and unique "gift"!
Sadly my bees died the following winter. Every two weeks I went to check on the beehive, but it wasn't supposed to be. In June I bought a new colony and an extra hive. They have already made it through the winter well, so hopefully I'll harvest some honey again this summer.
How much time do you spend beekeeping?
Sometimes when I read in those Facebook groups, I think, "Wow, those people are quite busy with beekeeping." I prefer to let my bees do their thing. Since the nice weather of February, I've actually only opened my beehives once to hang honey in them.
The first year that I had my colony, I went every two weeks to check on my bees. Each person creates their own way of doing this, of course you can invest a lot more time in it. But I try to leave the bees alone as much as possible.
Do you have any tips for novice beekeepers?
It all starts with choosing a a beehive that suits you. Each hive has its own beekeeping method. For example, I chose a Warré hive because it is quite traditional and especially well adapted to what the bees are used to naturally.
You'll also come across hundreds of varieties of beehives. It might become overwhelming to find a suitable beehive right away. I would especially recommend to gain information from professionals and to take time to search for the beehive that suits you and your vision on beekeeping.