How did you get started keeping bees? What inspired you?
In 2013 my kids and I met a beekeeper selling honey at a Farmer’s Market (in Los Angeles). He was looking for places in the city where he could put a few hives. A week later we had 100,000 bees flying around our back yard.
Are you a full-time beekeeper? Is your family involved?
I’m still a part-time beekeeper, part time honey bottler, and full-time freelance writer.
My boys were 7 and 10 when we started keeping bees. My older son wanted to sell honey in front of our house, lemonade-stand-style. He sold out in 2 hours, and we’ve grown from there. The kids help with beekeeping, painting boxes, bottling honey, labeling jars, etc. They can do almost everything except driving and Quickbooks.
Where are your hives, and how many do you have?
We run about 20 hives right now. They’re hidden in neighborhoods around Los Angeles County. By the end of this Summer I hope to get up to 50 hives.
What is your favorite varietal of honey?
I can’t pick just one. We get Basswood from a beekeeper friend in Minnesota that’s very light and floral. It’s almost minty. The urban honey Mid-City Los Angeles is amazing. A couple of years ago my friend extracted a hive from an old wine barrel. I swear you could taste Merlot in the honey. The kids prefer very light honey, like grapefruit and clover.
What is your fondest memory since you began keeping bees?
When we did Artisanal LA (a food trade show) the kids dressed in their beekeeping suits, gave out samples and sold a helluva lot of honey. It was a beautiful sight.
What are some the challenges that you face? That your bees face?
In my area the drought has been a big issue. With the rain we’ve had this year, I’m hoping we’ll get a good harvest. Cranky neighbors can make urban beekeeping a challenge. All things considered, bees do very well in Los Angeles.
What can our subscribers and other individuals, who may not be beekeepers, do to support bees and beekeepers?
Check Craigslist to see if there are any beekeepers in your town selling their honey or candles. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the business!
Get rid of your lawn and plant flowers like borage, clover, poppies, honeysuckle – whatever works best in your zone. Your local bees will thank you!
Thank you, David!