I started keeping backyard bees in 2012 by trading 20lbs of sauerkraut for a locally caught swarm. Since then, I’ve learned about everything from bees’ social structure to genetics, mostly through internet fora and local beekeeping associations. California’s intense drought combined with my casual approach means I don’t get a ton of honey, but I get enough honey, wax, and propolis to make salves, candles, and mead for myself and friends. More than the products they produce, I love being close to a deadly and complicated organism whose history is so closely intertwined with that of humans.
My hives survived the move from Santa Cruz to Oakland but crappy forage and a small backyard made it a little trickier to keep them going. A swarm in 2018 left me queenless and I decided to take a break from beekeeping until I have a better place for it.