meet the keepers: part i
Dave's story
"I don't know how threatened they are. If everything went to hell, bees would probably survive better than humans."
When Dave Johnson bought his small farm in Harrop, his parents were already keeping bees in Nelson. Dave and his wife Pat had settled in with no thought of keeping bees. However, Dave's father felt the farm in Harrop was a better place for the bees since some young people had taken to throwing rocks at the hives in their Nelson yard. After his folks moved three or four hives out to Harrop, Dave's curiosity got the better of him. Before long he had a veil on and was peeking over their shoulders while they opened the hives.

George's story
"The yard doesn't seem right with no bees, for sure. It just doesn't."
George Anutooshkin began beekeeping while still living in the Doukhobor village, only about 500 yards from where his Ootischenia home is today. He started out with a swarm that landed inside the Dom, the Doukhobor communal house. The building was wood construction, so the swarm found an opening and nested between the joists. It was late fall, and George decided he was going to move the bees. He had no equipment at the time, so he put them in a cardboard box with some frames, and left them inside one of the sheds. The bees didn't survive the winter. They got George interested in beekeeping, though.

part ii
Don's story
Fletcher Creek
"Human beings meddle with nature all the time, but if we're going to participate in the natural process of pollination, then let's make sure we do it right."
Don Scarlett and his wife, Elizabeth, have been beekeeping for about five years. Their intention is to be as self-sufficient as possible, generating their own power, growing their own vegetables and tree fruit. That's where the bees come in. The idea was to get more pollination. Though their property had mature fruit trees, Don and Elizabeth weren't getting a lot of fruit, so they thought, "Maybe we need more pollination. That was part of our motivation, and I thought if we get a little bit of honey too, that would be great."

Shauna's story
"Spending time watching bees pollinate in a field or in a garden would be a magical lesson for just about anybody. I call it Bee TV."
This is Shauna Teare's second year with bees. The first time she saw a top bar beehive was seven years ago, while doing a food event in Calgary. She deeply appreciated bees and the pollination they provide, but wasn't really interested in beekeeping until she met a top bar beekeeper, Elise Watson of ABC Bees. "She really opened my mind to keeping bees for the intent of keeping bees, and taking care of bees and honouring them," Shauna says. "That was pretty profound to me." That planted the seed, and Shauna knew that she would have honeybees on her farm property as it developed.

part iii
Helen + Corky's story
Helen + Corky
"I can hear a single bee on the roadside from eight feet away. I'll go over and see what it is. Well, that's not normal."
Corky Evans was first inspired to take up beekeeping at 21, after attending an agriculture class in Duncan. "The instructor took us around and showed us different farms and different activities. I saw somebody keeping bees and I thought that was a good idea, so I tried it," he says. It only lasted a year before Corky moved up north and had to give his bees away. Forty years later, after retiring from a political career, his friend Lou Trescott brought a hive of bees in the back of his pickup truck to Corky's farm. Lou set the hive on the ground saying, "Now you gotta do something with this."

Sarah's story
"Beekeeping is a real time-passing, seasonal thing. It's renewal. Death and rebirth. You absolutely fall in love with it."
Sarah Currie is entering her second year as a beekeeper. When she was nine years old, she was given honey in the comb from the Todd family farm, near her home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was the most delicious thing she had ever tasted. Sarah was always curious about bees from that time on. The Todd family also had goats that Sarah would milk, and they were very kind people. "So, it was the whole Todd family experience that was infused in the taste of the honey."

part iv
Marg + Rick
"When I have a few minutes, I just sit there and watch the bees and relax."
"We began beekeeping ten years ago," says Rick Malcolm. "I'm entirely self-taught. I watched dozens of online videos and then just tried it." One wouldn't know from his approach that Rick sometimes experiences severe anxiety. "When I picked up my first nucs from the Huxter's in Grand Forks, it was a worry," he says. "What's this guy who has panic attacks doing keeping bees?" He admits his anxiety around the bees was high for awhile, but he now counts beekeeping among his coping strategies. "The bees have definitely been therapeutic."

Nette's story
"The small family farmers and market gardeners are the future. People with a couple of hives here, a patch of vegetables there. That is going to see the world fed."
Nette and Jeremy Lack started beekeeping in 2009. They did have bees before, when they lived in England, but Nette describes it as, "just an idealistic concept of having a WBC garden hive, an old-fashioned one. They look really nice." The couple truly started beekeeping in earnest on their Thrums farm, Mad Dog, because they were growing crops and there was a lack of pollination. "The squash wasn't being pollinated. The strawberries were half pollinated, and we realized then that we were in trouble," says Nette. "So we started keeping bees."

part v
Bronwyn + Axel's story
Bronwyn + Axel
"People react to bees in one of two ways. You're either swatting your arms, or you get into the zone."
Bronwyn Krause never made a conscious decision to get into bees. They were always around. Her dad and granddad went to check the bees, and she went with them. Axel Krause explains how his father, Willie, was once head carpenter at Selkirk College, retiring in 1975. At that time, Peter Wood had two or three bee hives behind the college. Willie wanted to know why the hives were there, so Peter put a veil on him and they went out and had a look at the bees.

Ron's story
"Do I get stung? Let me put it this way. If you play with fire, what happens?"
Ron McIntyre has been keeping bees for 45 years. He was brought up with beekeeping. His father George kept honeybees in Rossland for fifty years. When Ron was still living at home, his dad sometimes needed help with the bees because he worked shifts. "I didn't do very much," Ron says. "Through those years, I said I didn't want anything to do with those damn bees." Still, his father was determined that among his three sons, someone would take it up. "I guess you could say my father finally succeeded in getting my interest," says Ron. "Once I had that interest, I never lost it."