New hobby is bees knees: Senior finds passion in beekeeping through 4-H spin club

Bees swarm around their white box home as they fly in and out working on their honeycomb. Senior Sydney Wilkinson enjoys the buzzing of bees as she maintains their home and helps foster a healthy atmosphere for them to live. What started as a way to meet a school requirement has transformed into a life-long passion while also helping the environment.

“I saw the sign that said ‘beekeeping classes’, and at the time I was in IB, so I needed CAS experiences,” Sydney said. “I also care about the environment and bees are endangered, so I figured I would pick up a new hobby.”

The experience ended up being something Sydney truly enjoyed after she joined the 4-H spin club and received her bees.

“The best thing about beekeeping being out there and feeling like you’re one with nature,” Sydney said. “You know you’re helping the environment and that you’re taking care of a thousand little bees.”

Along with the environmental part of the learning experience, there are many areas of study that a beekeeper needs to learn in order to efficiently keep the bees.

“The most interesting part of beekeeping for me is there’s a plethora of things to learn alongside beekeeping,” Brazos Valley Beekeeping Association director Chris Barnes said. “A person needs to learn not only about the bees, but about also botany, ecology, and business.”

One of the goals of the program is to help understand the process that must occur to create an end product like honey or beeswax.

“Too many students are isolated from the foods they eat,” Barnes said. “They don’t understand what is involved in producing that food. When there is a lack of understanding, a lack of value soon follows.”

While there are interesting things about the beekeeping profession, there are also some challenges that come with controlling a population of the tiny pollinators.

“The hardest thing about beekeeping is controlling what’s happening with your bees,” Sydney said. “You can’t always control when the queen dies and when they’re going to start making another queen or when they swarm. Being a good beekeeper means trying to predict what’s gonna happen and making sure you can help or hinder them.”

Despite all of the work that goes into beekeeping, Sydney continues to enjoy the hobby and even chose to paint her parking spot reflect the bees in her life.

“My parking spot has a honeycomb design as well as a big bee on it,” Sydney said. “I had a hard time deciding on what I wanted to do with my parking spot this year, but obviously beekeeping is one of my passions now, so I thought, ‘Yes. Beekeeping spot.’ It’s also a great way to raise awareness about the whole bee endangerment issue.”

Through this years long process, Sydney has discovered a passion she wants to continue beyond the youth program.

“I am actually thinking about beekeeping as a career now,” Sydney said. “It’s really fun, and there’s so much you can do with it. You get the honey and the beeswax, and then you can make things out of those like candles, chapstick, and facial scrub. It’s pretty versatile. I don’t think I’m going to do commercial beekeeping where beekeepers have thousands of hives to transport to farms for pollination. I’d do it more on the hobbyist level, but still make products.”

Other students interested in getting involved with beekeeping can visit www.bvbeeks.org for more information about the program.