The year was 2014 and I had just made one of the scariest decisions in my life, to get out of the United States Marine Corps after seven years of honorable service to pursue my “next big adventure”. That adventure was to try my hand at getting an education which, logically, brought me back to my home state of Minnesota. The plan was to attend the University of Minnesota Crookston’s campus to study Ecological Restoration. As I was settling into the area I went down to the local American Legion looking for conversation and to get the scoop on local activities. That is where I met a couple who said they “ran bees” as a living. I had absolutely no idea what that meant, so curiously I asked too many questions until they were ready to leave. This was the first time I had ever heard of anyone who made their living from honey bees. I guess I thought of that conversation more than I realize because soon I was actively seeking information on honey bees and agriculture. That thought process eventually led me to transferring to the University’s St. Paul campus where I could get a better dose of those two areas of interest.
It wasn’t long after I transferred before I was offered an opportunity to attend a free beekeeping course for veterans put on by the University’s Bee Squad and a retired Marine Corps officer. I made sure to introduce myself after the class to thank the staff who welcomed me as if we were friends. After being further engaged by the class I figured I had to get more, realizing the only way to get hands on training relating to beekeeping was that I had to get into the Bee Squad. I emailed the director asking to volunteer which could not be arranged, so out of the kindness of her heart, she sat down with me for an interview. At last, I was in! I was granted the opportunity to help 1 day a week throughout the summer months where I learned invaluable lessons.
That upcoming season, although no longer working for the Bee Squad, I got some bees of my own. Things went good my first season; the bees did great but so did the bears. With one hive left going into winter, encouragement set in ironically. Although some colonies died, at least it wasn’t from disease or poor animal husbandry. The next year saw more hives in the bee yard but with an electric fence that was wired so hot it could stop an elephant.
It was around the year 2016, I realized I would like to take a crack at being a professional beekeeper. The bees did OK that year, but I was left with more questions than answers going into winter. Soon I found out with each progressing year that would become the norm. Those questions led me to develop a strategy to make a living from professional beekeeping. I started Propolis Hive Company in 2018.