Here at BKN, we have a bit of an obsession with bees. Hailing from Canada, beekeeper Stephanie Taylor (@that_girls_a_keeper) has a similar love affair. We caught up with Stephanie to discuss how she got turned on to beekeeping, her views on sustainability, her fav bee product, and more…
What inspired you to start beekeeping?
Three years ago, I spent six months in New Zealand visiting family and volunteering on organic farms (Woofing). A family friend of mine who had recently started working as a beekeeper let me tag along one day to the bee yard. I was only around the bees for a couple of hours but after that day I was eager to get involved, so I took a two-day course and an 11-month commercial beekeeping course. I learn something new everyday from the bees and I love how they always peak my curiosity.
Tell us about your most memorable experience with bees in your first year of beekeeping.
During my first year, I worked at a 4000-colony operation in rural Northern Alberta. One day, we extracted 32,000 pounds of honey from just one or two days’ worth of honey harvesting!
How has working closely with bees changed your perception of nature and the world around us?
Working in this industry has made me more in tune with my environment.
We openly believe that supporting ethical and sustainable beekeepers is an important part of helping the bees and generating awareness. How do you respond to people who question the practices of taking and consuming bee products?
Like any industry, there are businesses run more ethically and sustainably than others. Personally, I prefer small-medium scale operations where the bees aren’t overworked and overstressed. I work in environments where I have time to be gentle, thorough, and fair to the bees. They do a lot for us. Beekeepers do a lot for them too, and I think a lot of people aren’t aware of that. Since the spread of diseases and pests, honeybees can no longer survive long term in the wild. We medicate, feed when necessary, split them to stop swarming, are always looking for solutions to the threats they face, etc.
What does sustainable beekeeping mean to you?
Sustainable beekeeping to me means to continuously adapt to the needs of the hive. Keep up to date with new research. Use organic acids and other alternative methods and be as little invasive as possible.
Are there any unique plant types in your area that produce a special variety of honey?
A unique nectar source found near where I live, as well as other parts of Canada, is Fireweed. It grows after forestry clear cuts and wildfires. It is clear, silky, and buttery (I’ve been working on my honey description words).
What is your favorite bee product and why?
Propolis. I light up when I see big chunks of it. I love the way it looks on a hot day when it’s all gooey and shiny. Propolis tincture works well for me to prevent/treat colds.
Tell us three lessons that you’ve learnt from the bees.
1.They will always surprise me. I realized early on that I will never stop learning.
2.There are too many variables for a consistent pattern of behavior, honey crop, overwintering success rate, etc.
3.They are hardy little creatures and they know what they are doing. And their performance can be optimized by a little bit of help from us.
Buzzing for more? You can follow Stephanie’s beekeeping adventures on Instagram at @that_girls_a_keeper.