I can't resist, I have to ask...

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by heinleinfan, May 18, 2012.

  1. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Okay, so, I've been futzing around on various online forums and sites for about 15 years now, and I have to say, this is the first forum I've ever been on where the most active members were mostly all older men. I'm used to active forums being either mostly women or mostly people younger than me. I'm not saying it's a bad thing at all, it's just really odd to me.

    And so I went poking around online and it does seem like beekeeping is predominantly a hobby of older men. Yes, there are younger people and women who are beeks, but the vast majority are apparently older males. What's up with that?

    For those that have been keeping a long time, have you seen an increase in younger people keeping? What about women? Do you think the internet has helped grow backyard keeping? And obviously many of you mature gentlemen started keeping when you were young. Was it something your family did? How did you get into it? And, heh, did you feel then like I feel now, like there's few beekeepers "my age" around?

    ...just been noodling this around in my brain lately.
     
  2. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    Not sure, exactly, why it seems to be predominantly older men. It may be because it is an older craft, and, like many other fine skills, is being ignored by many young people. Historically, it may have been more men in the business, since it does take some good upper body strength to heft a deep hive body full of honey (~ 90 lb!).

    Personally, I like to use it as a judge of character. Although people get into beekeeping for many reasons... from "saving the bees" to garden pollination to honey production... pretty much anyone who is interested in beekeeping has many of the personality traits I admire, and I would be honored to call them a friend.
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I think you are right about the age thing, but I think there have always been more female beeks than one would think. Many farm wives kept a hive or two out back for the family sweets. It's just that the men did it more commercially and talked about it more. The ladies are getting out into the public eye much more these days than they did in the years past.
     
  4. Noronajo

    Noronajo New Member

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    I think you're correct about the farm wives and women beeks. I wanted something to keep my husband busy when he retired last year so we ordered 2 hives and assembled them, learning all we could about bees. Guess who can't stay away from the bees? Yep, you got it- he helps but I love those ladies! Made my first split in March due to early buildup, didn't prevent 6 swarms from that hive-we now have 6 hives(combined 2 swarms, short on wooden wear) and to top it all off, i was telling my 86 year old aunt and she said," didn't you know your Great-Grandma Sooter was a beekeeper? Kept 'em out by the barn!"
     
  5. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Depends on your definition of "older". :wink:
    I was around 40 when I first got started beeking, took a few years off and then restarted after moving East. Like a lot of things nowadays, the glass ceiling doesn't apply anymore. When I worked for transit driving buses, they were actually hiring more women than men, the belief was it was easier to train someone without preconceived ideas how something was done (ie: women are easier to train than a ex-trucker).
    I see a lot of young people starting to get involved but I would still say for the most part they would be the "back-to-the-land types, not afraid of hard work (it is) and getting dirty (you do).
     
  6. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    Beekeeping, to me, is kind of like homeschooling and being self employed. The question is not, "Why do you do it?" but "Why doesn't everybody do it?" I know you aren't asking why we do it, but we are probably the wrong people to ask why someone else isn't doing it, if you know what I mean. I think the fact that since it's predominantly middle aged white men that practice the ancient art of beekeeping, and always has been, the next few decades will see the "baby boomers" dying off and beekeeping along with many other things will rapidly vanish. Right now the majority of whites in America are over child bearing age. Whites already only make up less than 8% of the planet's population. I think you asked about sex and not race, but I was just recently listening to a story on some public radio station about the Lions Club and other groups and hobbies that are dwindling because it's an "old white guy thing."

    There are all kinds of clubs and organizations that are gradually closing local chapters as the white population vanishes. Even the Roy Rogers museum had to be moved from it's historic location in California to Branson, MO., years ago because, as a Mexican woman who represented the area's new majority population, "Who's Roy Rogers? We don't care about some old white cowboy."

    I guess I rhetorically ask the bees the same thing I don't bother to ask the people replacing us, "Who's gonna feed you when we are gone?" :eek:ldtimer: :lol:
     
  7. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Easy...anyone older than me by more than one year is definitely "older". :lol:
     
  8. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    :lol: Well, I just checked your profile and for some strange reason you haven't listed your age on it! :shock: :lol:
    How would I know if I am "older" than you? :cool: :rolling:
    I know, I know, a gentleman never asks! :grin:
     
  9. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many. ~Author Unknown


    “A great artist can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is... and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be... more than that he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armidillo see that this lovely young girl is still alive, prisoned inside her ruined body.â€
    ~Robert A Heinlein
     
  10. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    We have several young couples in our bee club with children, and they all have bee suites. You would be surprised how much these youngsters know about bees. I think your right about most beekeepers being older, as for Dr. Buzz i would be careful about telling a woman her body was ruined,:roll: she might end up ruining yours.:lol: Jack
     
  11. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    Yep, I was the young un on our beekeeping course at 50.

    Well there were a few beatniks as well, but haven't seen or heard from them since the lessons.

    One of the reasons why I started the Boy Scout project was to expose young people to the hobby. I now have 4 families keeping bees with 6 kids actively involved.

    Our local club also presents to the Elemenatry schools every year
    we also have two Black Beekeepers in the club.

    Beekeeping is increasing in Africa too these days
     
  12. DLMKA

    DLMKA New Member

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    I'm 31 in my first year of beekeeping. Our club is made up mostly of what I would consider to be "older" folks meaning to me they are 50+ and even some people that have to be in their 80's. We do have a high school kid and his mom and another guy with his ~12 year old daughter and then we show up with 4 kids and all of them like the bees except my 3 year old who is a little scared of being around that many stinging bugs.

    I've brought out 2 of my oldest son's friends. One was really interested and the other was pretty scared the whole time the hive was open. I'm also going to give a demonstration and open up a hive for a family that homeschools.

    There is a lot of interest in beekeeping by people in my generation but most don't do it (IMHO) out of fear of "allergies". It seems 80% of the people I talk to are "allergic" to bee stings. I even showed someone a recent sting on the wrist that was a little swollen and red and they thought for sure I should have gone to the doctor because it looked like and "allergic" reaction.
     
  13. Slowmodem

    Slowmodem New Member

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    Ukiah

    One of my all time favorite songs is Ukiah by the Doobie Brothers. The lyrics are:

    People rushin' everywhere
    If they'd only slow down once
    They might find something there
    Green trees and timber land
    People workin' with their hands
    For sure a different way to live
    Gonna keep my cabin at hand
    Retreat and live off the land
    All around Ukiah

    The mountain streams that rush on by
    Show the fish a jumpin'
    And reflect the open sky
    The fresh clean smell of the pines
    Symbol of unchanging times
    All around this sacred land
    Strangely, though, I've found my way
    Right here I'm gonna stay
    In this land Ukiah

    I think young people are too busy with careers, dating, partying, familys, etc. There's just no time in their schedules for beekeeping (or other interests like gardening). Perhaps they do virtual beekeeping.

    I was trying to remember my younger days (it took a while). Of course back then, things were simpler and slower-paced. But I had different interests and objectives. Now that I'm older (and hopefully wiser), I think it's appropriate to take some time and enjoy life and it's pleasures. Some of it takes work and effort. But, the rats were running the rat race before me and they'll be running it after me, so I'm trying to be a lesser factor in that race, and have a life more like life in Ukiah.
     
  14. Walt B

    Walt B New Member

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    I had been thinking about keeping bees for several years, but lived in urban areas and didn't want to take on the liability. When we moved to a rural location, where I knew we'd be staying because I would be retiring eventually, I read, attended meetings, and asked questions for a year and then got some bees. Or, it could be like the old saying:

    "We get too soon old and too late smart."

    Walt
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2012
  15. DLMKA

    DLMKA New Member

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    This has something to do with it too. I see my friends running all over creation taking kids here and there for dance, karate, swimming, music lessons, baseball, basketball, you name it. They don't have time to spend with their kids and do things for themselves.

    I'm not going to say that activites for the kids are bad but sometimes it's just too much. My kids (and the neighbor's) like to help me in the garden even though it can sometimes be frustrating watching them walk right over plants or eating half-ripe strawberries (by eating I mean taking one bite and deciding it wasn't good yet and feeding it to the chickens) but they really seem to like the "simple" things that we do.
     
  16. pturley

    pturley New Member

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    Hey, I resent that remark. I am not old... ...I am only 25 but with 19 years of experience!

    I keep bees...

    ...to feed my comb honey addiction...
    ...and because I have always been a Biology geek... (I work and an engineer but have a BS in Biology from U of Minn)
    ...and because my kids are also fascinated by them...
    ...and because I am a hobbiest gardener (I am tired of the paltry yields I've gotten in the past couple of years)...
    ...and because I am VERY concerned about their decline...
    ...and because I FINALLY have enough property to do so (This may be a major driver for many... ...it was certainly a limiting factor for me!) ...
    ...and because I have the tools, experience and resources to build most of my own woodenware (and enjoy doing so)...
    ...and because it was supposed to be a hobby both my wife and I can share (although she dropped out a LONG time ago! I still have yet to get her to put on a bee suit!)...

    ...and after 20+ years of reading about beekeeping, honeybees and communcation and behavior (including peer reviewed texts), entomology, behaviour ecology, biogeography, etc., I finally get to keep and work with them again myself.
     
  17. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    hobie said:
    [FONT=&amp]"it may have been more men in the business, since it does take some good upper body strength to heft a deep hive body full of honey (~ 90 lb!).[/FONT]"
    i can still heft those hobie with the 'pipes' of another beek sometimes, 'not as good as i once was'. you gents will get there someday, us girlies just get there quicker :lol:...... and

    "[FONT=&amp]I like to use it as a judge of character. Although people get into beekeeping for many reasons... from "saving the bees" to garden pollination to honey production... pretty much anyone who is interested in beekeeping has many of the personality traits I admire, and I would be honored to call them a friend."[/FONT]
    :thumbsup:

    iddee said:
    "[FONT=&amp]I think there have always been more female beeks than one would think. Many farm wives kept a hive or two out back for the family sweets. It's just that the men did it more commercially and talked about it more. The ladies are getting out into the public eye much more these days than they did in the years past."
    [/FONT]
    there are and have been, just that the 'not so traditional' is more in the public eye. my mentor was a commercial keep and his wife was right there along side him, and minding the business of the home and farm as well. i have a friend who's been a beek for 30+years. her father passed the passion of the craft to her because the son's weren't interested. my mentor passed the craft to me because his sons weren't interested:lol:

    perry said something about younger folks and "not afraid of hard work" and "getting dirty". in today's lifestyles hard work and getting dirty isn't as 'traditional' as it used to be, and I would think one would have to have some real passion for keeping bees in a suburban environment (because of the challenges you face, neighbors not being happy,hiding hives, etc) and/or with a lifestyle that does have one running all over creation with the activities of the family environment? My son’s idea of hard work and getting dirty, is a lot different than mine. So passion for bees = hard work and getting dirty! I clean up pretty good!

    slowmodem, love that ukiah song, especially the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] verse:

    "The mountain streams that rush on by
    Show the fish a jumpin'
    And reflect the open sky
    The fresh clean smell of the pines
    Symbol of unchanging times
    All around this sacred land
    Strangely, though, I've found my way
    Right here I'm gonna stay
    In this land Ukiah
    "
    :amen:


    Me too
     
  18. CharlieB

    CharlieB New Member

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    I know Perry's picture is a dead give away :eek: and I think there's some truth to what you say but you should come to one of our meetings in SF. At least half are women and we've had several female speakers recently. We also have women on our swarm and extraction list.
     
  19. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    You know, I'm not really that old, I'm only 53. For some reason my beard grew in white. I do clean up real nice when I want to. Wife says the beard puts at least 5 years on me.
    Just to prove it, here's me a couple of years ago and before anyone says it, I am the guy wearing the bee suit, not the other guy!

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Tia

    Tia New Member

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    I've been giving the NC Master Beekeepers classes for certification for several years now and I'm pleased that we've had lots of 30-somethings--even husband & wife combos--and lots of ladies attend the classes. There are a few high schoolers, but they seem to be doing it mostly for their senior paper and then lose interest. As a matter of fact, my latest class of newbees is taking a field trip to Rick Coor's Spring Bank Bee Farm tomorrow to pick up their first nucs and to take a tour of the apiary, including some lessons in queen breeding! We're all excited about it. I've also worked with the Boy Scouts at Camp Bonner in Blounts Creek in an effort to set up an apiary and get the scouts maintaining it. Last I heard, the bees were doing well and the number of attending scouts was increasing.