The Secret Life of Beekeeping
The benefits of beekeeping are endless. Everything from the honey we can collect, the surrounding crops that get pollinated, to the lifestyle that you adopt and the relationship you build with your colonies; it all changes your life in the best ways.
Honeybee keeping is a very profitable hobby that is popular primarily in states within Middle America to the Midwest. Honey is not only a sweet, syrupy alternative to sugar, but it even provides many natural properties that can benefit human health1. It is even said to act as a holistic form of therapy for some. This week, we are traveling to Northeast Ohio to speak with Cyndi Konopka. Cyndi is an Ohio native who spends many of her days engaging with fellow artists through the Geauga Arts Council, curating her garden with a combination of florals and art, and maintaining her community of beehives. Cyndi shares with us her journey as a beekeeper from bottom to top.
Ohio may have many chilly, cloudy days, but between all of that, our friend Cyndi is able to fulfill her hobby as a beekeeper.
Cyndi started her beekeeping journey in 2011 on her expansive, lush green plot of land tucked away in the woods of Chardon, Ohio. It all started when she was a little girl and Cyndi was “…into all kinds of animals and things you could imagine…” and she eventually told her parents“’I wanna get bees!’” Today, she keeps many hives spread across the property. So, I had to dive right in and ask Cyndi all about her beekeeping life:
In this current season, is there something you’re working on right now that you’re excited about with the bees?
Cyndi: “I’m actually excited to go out there and see how much honey is out there because I haven’t been out there in about a week or so.’”
When do you start collecting honey?
Cyndi: “’…We pulled honey within that last couple of weeks…Sometimes there’s not enough to pull. This year I got some hives that are really going-to-town.’”
How many beehives do you have?
Cyndi: “I have five hives. One is called the Shady Pines Retirement Hive because one of queens started laying really spotty and I was going to replace her, and I didn’t want to pinch her.”
Believe it or not, Cyndi does not pinch her queens: she relocates them into their own separate hives where they still produce and work but at a much lower rate and speed that a successful hive requires.
Cyndi: “I have a really big Saskatraz honeybee hive that made it through the winter which is really doing crazy right now…I’ve got another Saskatraz nuc in the spring which is doing really well…I split the hive that made it through the winter, which was my first walk-away split that actually ever actually worked so we were pretty excited about that.”
One thing I found to be quite charming is Cyndi’s naming convention for her bees:
Cyndi: “I’ve got a queen to replace, Susan, the retired queen, so now we’ve got Bernice, we have Natalie, we have Joy…and Trish!”
Naming her bees and her hives helps Cyndi distinguish her colonies.
How has Blue Sky Bee Supply supplemented your beekeeping journey?
Cyndi: “’Jamie and I used to work together and we have a mutual friend Joel” she replied. “He sold honey and I wanted to get bees, so I started pickin’ his brain. We became friends and I joined a beekeeper club for an entire year before I got bees…” She added “I talk to Mel a lot..I’ll be on my Facebook page like “’ Geez! *this* is happening’” and then you know Jamie will chime in…they’re both really helpful.”
Beekeeping is just one of many of Cyndi’s hobbies. Whether she can sell her jars of honey or not, her relationship with the bees keeps her in enticed by the hobby:
Cyndi: “People are like “’Why are you doing this? Are you doing this to make a lot of money? And I always laugh…I said “’ I’m trying to save the world!”
Beekeepers are different when it comes to the reason as to why they do what they do. Cyndi’s journey is one unique from many others: “I don’t know that there’s just one thing I love…the more I learn about it, the more interesting it becomes. It’s how they interact and all the different jobs they have. Their society is so complex.” She values both the educational and emotional components of beekeeping the most.
Beekeeping isn’t limited to a single type of person. Whether you’re dreaming about becoming a beekeeper in your youth like Cyndi, are in your quarter-life looking to profit from selling honey, or retired and looking to take up something new, beekeeping is lifestyle that can teach you more than you thought you’d ever learn about honeybees over a lifelong growing experience.
Cyndi Konopka - Photo by Michelle Carandang
1.) Cleveland Clinic. (2021, August 20).Health benefits of honey and how to use it. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-benefits-o...
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