Beekeeping – A lesson in Business and Trust

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Beekeeping Considering frugal

About 10 years ago we started buying honey while shopping at the local farmers market as part of our commitment to frugal green living. We fell madly in love with this one brand, and started using so much of it that I decided to call the beekeeper directly, and ask about wholesale pricing.

Little did I know what that would turn into…

from Distributing Honey

It all started very innocently, when I bought some wholesale honey in bulk. As more and more friends and family caught on, our co-op grew until, when we decided to move to Wyoming, this was one of the few pieces of our life I didn’t want to leave behind. So, after some encouragement from our beekeeper friend, I thought, “well, if we are moving that far, I think I would like to do this too!”

Bee Keeping Fresh Honey Considering frugal

So my girl, and I started dreaming about the farmers market, the beeswax candles, the baking and making, oh the mead I will make, strawberry, blackberry, caramelized honey mead! We love making lipgloss and soaps! We would have an endless supply!…

It sounded perfect, “and if beekeeping takes patience…I already have patience!” I quickly learned though, that beekeeping is not about patience at all…its about trust. When you can’t see what is going on in that box in the winter months…you start sweating bullets wondering if they are surviving the latest storm. You have to trust them.

to Beekeeping

I’m sure its no coincidence that I’m learning trust in this season of life.

Our first spring, our first swarm.

Our first spring, last spring, one of our hives lost a queen to a late and very cold spring snow. Spring snows are very common here, I had the hive set up just in time, but hadn’t had time to put up a wind guard. The wind chill here in Cheyenne is usually several degrees colder than the actually temps, and the queen was hanging out right on the east side of the box where the wind always hits. Since then, we have put up a pallet to slow the wind on that side, and ironically the bees in that hive always cluster on the west side of the box. They re queened right after the storm and swarmed on the first warm day. Luckily they swarmed in the only short tree we have, and with the help of several friends, we got them back.

“He who has loved and lost is better for it!” – unknown

Beekeeping Considering frugal

This winter has been weird. We had kind of a late fall, with temps staying in the 50’s. And then boom, 4 degrees and icy. Unfortunately, one of my hives didn’t make it through this. When I dissected the hive, I found quite a bit of brood and they were also re queening. The queen had died too. They weren’t supposed to be making so much brood this time of year. It was as if the weather had confused them into some spring activities.

The hive that had swarmed last spring, so far, they are still alive and kicking. They still avoid that east corner of the box where the first queen died. They seem to remember what to do from the loss of last year.

I was surprised that the larger hive is the one that died, but I am so thankful for the bees that gave they’re little lives to teach me my first lessons. When I first discovered the untimely passing, I was devastated. I really thought my dreams of harvesting honey every summer, making yummy mead for the county fair, and selling beautiful gold filled jars at the farmer’s market were gone! But as I began to work through cleaning up the waste and examining the bees, I realized I was just getting started learning. It wasn’t all lost. It wasn’t a disease ridden hive that had to be burned. I still have an empty hive box and another living hive. I ordered spring bees for the empty box and extracted the remaining honey. From a business standpoint, it isn’t really a loss.

Trust is a part of business that I never really considered before this venture. I remembered farmers and beekeepers loosing everything at once growing up in Indiana. Twenty tornadoes could come through in one night and wipe out a lifetime of work, but I never considered that those same farmers, in addition to trusting the weather, also had to trust the process of biology itself. That seems like a risky business! – the business of developing trust, the foundation of faith.

Back when we started our remodeling business in Arizona, we used to think we always needed space big enough to hold our dreams. While I still think this is true, I understand the process better than I used to. There is a push and pull in business between dreaming big and not getting emotionally attached to your venture as an investor or entrepreneur.

Some of the big time investor’s will try to tell you to NEVER get emotionally attached. I don’t completely agree with that either. I am learning that it is definitely a balance. I have watched many friends and acquaintances as they began to dream big…and while it is hard to watch because often times it is that moment when we are susceptible to crashing, dreaming big is also that moment when we become emotionally attached. Without the emotional attachment, we don’t love our work and without the love we can’t love, lose and learn and get better. If you are not emotionally attached, you don’t have a dream and without dreams, life has no passion. So, my advice…GET EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED to your dream and your business.

Get emotionally attached to what you love! Know that you will lose sometimes and decide now to learn from it and get better.

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