Our Blue KC employees have some pretty interesting hobbies— but one in particular has the office buzzing. Three of our employees all have personal beehives at home. We took a moment to chat with them about their passion for beekeeping and how they became interested in it!
An Executive Assistant at Blue KC, Susan Pitts has always enjoyed growing and raising her own food. After already tending a garden and raising chickens, harvesting bees seemed like a natural next step for Susan. When she heard about colony collapse disorder, learning more about beekeeping and the impact bees have on our environment became a huge motivating factor for her.
“Bees have a huge impact on agriculture. Without a healthy bee population, our lives would change dramatically in a very short period of time,” she said. “People assume having a hive nearby poses a threat to being stung, when in fact, with three hives in my backyard, I rarely see a bee anywhere near my house. As a matter of fact, I have only been stung once!”
According to Susan, it’s not difficult to keep bees, but they are very complex and the better you understand the bees, the better you’ll be at beekeeping.
Gordy Johnston is a Senior Medicare Advantage Compliance Analyst. He started keeping bees as a hobby when he was in high school, which inspired him to become a full-fledged beekeeper. He also used to work for a professor-turned-mentor at the University of Kansas who studied African bees, also known as killer bees. Gordy’s mentor gave him the opportunity to help conduct research on bees at a field station in Mexico. Gordy found bees so fascinating that he went on to study them in graduate school. But Gordy notes even the most knowledgeable beekeepers can run into challenges here and there.
“Lately, a challenge has been maintaining healthy colonies year round,” he said. “This past winter, I lost many hives and the number of honeybees in the both the wild and in apiaries has been declining for years. But beekeeping has been very rewarding, as well. It’s given me the opportunity to learn about an incredible species.”
Gordy enjoys beekeeping because it’s taken him to many different countries, allowed him to make lifelong friends and is a hobby he can share with his sons.
One of our Business Systems Analysts, Scott Purcell, picked up beekeeping at a young age. His grandfather was a beekeeper and Scott would help him tend to his hive when he was growing up. Now, Scott considers beekeeping a relaxing hobby that he does on the weekends. Watching his hive work can be relaxing and before you know it, an hour or two has gone by. What are Scott’s tips for all of the prospective beekeepers out there?
“Do lots of research before your bees arrive. Seek out an established local beekeeper that is willing to be your mentor. You will have new questions every step of the way,” he said.
According to Scott, while beekeeping can have its challenges, there is nothing sweeter than fresh honey straight from the comb.
Follow our monthly Bee-hind the Journey series, where we’ll go into more detail about the new hive, the journey from hive to table and share recipes featuring fresh honey.