Sam Joseph’s Journal – An Aspiring Beekeeper’s Journal – An Artists Initial Reaction to Beekeeping

Sam Joseph Holding Bees and comb

Sam Joseph Holding Bees and comb

One thing we ask all of our beekeepers to do when they join the Beepods team is to journal about their experiences.  As a business focused on leadership development, we want all of our team to be sure they are learning and growing as people.  We have asked one of our new beekeepers Sam Joseph to share her experiences as an aspiring beekeeper. We hope you enjoy it!

My first experience with honeybees put me in a state of enchantment that I have not since escaped. From that point on, I have wanted to work with bees, but different circumstances have never allowed me to take on my own hive.  I filled the void with books about bees and how to keep them, checking them out from the library so often the librarians probably assume that I am an actual beekeeper.

As an artist, it’s always been important to me to never set any concrete boundaries.  I’m sure you other artists can relate.  Boundaries are fluid.  It is incredibly difficult to answer questions.  Most of the time, questions don’t even have answers.  Being an artist is like living submerged in a vast ocean of ambiguity.

It can be insanely frustrating at times, but that’s the way it has to be, and that’s the way I want it to be.  So, when I’m in need of a good dose of clarity, I turn to science.  I’m not a scientist, but I kinda wish I was.  Until I reach that goal, there are many ways for regular people to get immersed in science.  Beekeeping is one of them. Even just reading about bees has given me something firm (but still mysterious, no doubt) to hold on to.  And that is all I have had until recently.

Just a few weeks ago, I decided to reach out to bees through a different avenue.  I had seen Beepods at a few Newaukee and Maker Market events, and spoken with a couple of their people, so I got in touch and asked if I could volunteer.  And they said hell yes, so I said hell yes, and here we are.

When I first spoke with Brian, one of the leaders in the company, he wanted to know how I became interested in bees.  I told him a little bit about it, but I know that I did not do the story justice.  Now they’re letting me write on their website, so let justice be served!

A few years ago, I went to visit a cousin working on a bee farm in Corvallis, Oregon.  I would later learn that this was called an Apiary, but all I understood at that point was that it was a farm.  He had lived in several farms previously, so I didn’t think twice when we turned off the hilly country road onto an even hillier country road and started winding our way toward his house.

Nor did I think twice when we came upon the most perfect little cottage.  It sat on the top of a soft hill overlooking rows of grape vines followed by a small pasture of goats.  The cottage was a teeny little thing, with just enough space, and no more than that.  Out on the patio was a bathtub that you could fill with warm water and sit in while picking grapes from the vines that hung overhead.  The space alone was enough to make me want to stay forever, but the space was soon upstaged by the bees that inhabited it.

It started as a hum.  We wandered the landscape for the first hour of our visit.  The seasoned grape vines, the comical goats, the sturdy garlic patch, and the rolling hills charmed me.  The farmers had all kinds of fruit trees, laden with blossoms, a vegetable patch, little baby chickens.  It was the perfect little farm.  But there was something more to it than what I could see.  An ethereal presence followed us over the land.  The place was blanketed in a calmness that was hard to put your finger on.  After a short time, I connected it with the persistent hum coming from what seemed like everywhere.

Approaching one of the blossoming trees, I was able to put a face to the presence.  The bush was alive with fuzzy, golden, downright adorable honey bees.  It was love at first sight.  I was transfixed.  I must have watched them for an hour.  For the rest of our visit, I kept noticing them flying around, doing their thing, and feeling little bursts of excitement.  They were there with us.

I knew there were bees at this farm; that wasn’t a surprise to me.  I just didn’t expect them to be such a big part of the atmosphere, to affect the mood of the entire place, the entire group.  I might have thought before that bees would bring a little tension to a party, but rather, they enveloped us in their world with the sound of their wings.  They were at no point threatening.  They just went about their business with an uplifting energy.

I didn’t get to look into a hive on that trip, and I still haven’t gotten to yet.  But now that I am with Beepods, I can finally get that experience.  I actually get to work alongside the head beekeeper, Laura, watching the expert interact with the bees, and hopefully learning the skills and philosophy that she has.

It is easy to talk of bees’ sense of purpose, their busy-ness, their ingenuity, but what is not always mentioned is the overwhelming calm they have the power to evoke.  I witnessed and was a part of it on that trip to the apiary, and I have been seeking it ever since.

Sam Joseph
Sam Joseph
Sam Joseph is an artist and aspiring beekeeper. Constantly immersed in the ambiguity and uncertainty of art, she turns to science as a counterweight on her sanity scale. Bees enchanted her the moment she met them. Their overwhelming sense of organization and unfailing cooperation saturates the space and the minds they come in contact with, throwing a blanket of calmness over everything. Sam loves honey and pollen, but serenity is the most important gift the bees offer her.

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