Hello! I have been working as a beekeeper for the last 7 years and plan on doing so in the future. I go a university in the fall and spring, but work summers full time at Long's Honey Farms in Nebraska. As of now, I want to get my bachelor's degree, but may end up working with the bees.

Proof - This article is a few years old, but I thought it would do the trick. It gives a bit more information also!

More Proof from Reddit

Even more Proof from Reddit - This is a more informal post but if you look at the comments I explain what my job is to some other redditors.

Comments: 148 • Responses: 51  • Date: 

MemaholicCreeper24 karma

How many times have you been stung? What are some misconceptions about bees?

PnO_Mader23 karma

I probably have been stung less than a couple thousand times, but I have only been doing it for a few years. My grandpa, who has been doing it for over 60 years, and he has been stung countless times. The worst he had in one day was a few hundred I believe.

As I said in another comment, I believe people think honey bees are inherently mean or aggressive, which isn't the case. They are really calm as long as you don't provoke them first. Also, I think they need to be in the correct environment to be as "relaxed" as possible.

kckeller22 karma

A couple thousand? I’m going to be honest, I was expecting you to say a dozen or two. Do suits just not provide as much protection as I assumed?

PnO_Mader5 karma

Suits provide a lot of protection, but they definitely can sting through it. I normally dont wear a shirt under the suit because of how warm it gets in Nebraska when we take off honey, which means I get stung more often.

theAlChemist2332 karma

How badly does it hurt? I've been stung once in my life and it hurt for a few hours quite bad. Or do you just become resistant to it after a while?

Whatwouldahoneybeedo1 karma

Definitely become resistant to honey bee venom over time, certain spots like inside the nose and under the fingernail will always hurt like hell. I tend to liken it to an 8ft spear with a half inch blade (it feels like there’s a lot of force behind it, but the impact is minimal)

PnO_Mader2 karma

You are lucky then! I still have issues with pain after getting stung, but that's probably because I have long periods of time where I am not getting stung.

livid410 karma

What is the best thing an average person can to do help with the conservation of bees?

And what is your favourite fact about bees!

PnO_Mader29 karma

Honestly it is somewhat hard for the average person to do a lot. Planting native flowers and plants in your yard or anywhere around you is great for the bees that are around. One other point that I want to make is towards people who are wanting to help by getting their own hive. If they want to do that, they should definitely know what they are doing first. Bees take lots of work to maintain and they can be very difficult to manage without the proper knowledge.

One of the coolest things I realized about bees is that whenever they are upset or trying to alert the other bees of a threat, they release a pheromone that smells like bananas. Sometimes I'll open a hive and smell bananas, which is a sign that they are pissed lol

The_Prince_Lives8 karma

How did you get into it? Any tips for someone interested in creating a small scale (backyard) apiary?

PnO_Mader6 karma

My family has owned a beekeeping business since the mid-1930s. My grandpa still works with the bees and now my uncle owns the business and I have worked under both of them.

Regarding tips for anyone interested, I definitely say know your stuff. Research tons of information that could help make your hive survive. Maybe even try to contact local beekeepers for some advice. Also, don't expect to have much of a honey flow within your first couple of years. Focus on building your hive(s) strength!

VESTINGboot5 karma

What is a common misconception about bees?

PnO_Mader8 karma

That they are inherently aggressive. Bees are extremely calm as long as you don't provoke them first. Unless the conditions that they are in aren't optimal for them.

NotAPokemon14 karma

Do bees have different personalities not individually but as a hive? Like would you tell someone "dont spray lavendar they dont like that."

PnO_Mader3 karma

I know certain breeds of bees can have different characteristics such as being more aggressive or fertile than the others. Hives can also be more inherently aggressive than others just because of the type of queen they had or the environment they are in. We have had times where we need to "smoke" the bees because they are acting up, which can be a characteristic of their breed. But yea, sometimes hives can act differently compared to the others around it.

Abraxas192 karma

Also what does the smoke actually do to them to calm them down? Just make them dazed?

PnO_Mader3 karma

It actually masks the pheromones that they use to alert other bees of dangers. From my experience, it seems as if that works in calming them down also.

kfunke4 karma

How to people react when you say that you’re a beekeeper?

PnO_Mader1 karma

People often find it pretty interesting. A lot of the time they instantly ask if I get stung a lot, which depends on the day. I always love explaining the job to people!

real_noah3 karma

Do bee stings even hurt for you anymore?

PnO_Mader1 karma

Yep, they still hurt the same amount. It just becomes expected. Where you get stung definitely changes how much the sting hurts. I may not react as much as I used to because of how often it happens, but it definitely still hurts.

TheCocaineHurricane3 karma

Hey dude! I've actually just inherited my grandfathers farm! On it he kept a few beehives, and I'm wanting to look after them but I know basically nothing about bees. I was wondering what resources you used to learn the basics? I'm in Australia if that's relevant at all

PnO_Mader2 karma

To be honest, I may not be the best help for you. I learned everything I know from my grandpa and my uncle since they were my bosses for the last 7 years. I definitely recommend doing some research online about what is best for bees in your environment. Also, try to find local beekeepers that will have tons more experience than I do in your part of the world.

theeyeofevil3 karma

Hey.. which flavors of honey do you produce? Business in honey, nectar and propolis is quite good as far as I've heard but do tell me how much do you make off it?

PnO_Mader2 karma

We are more of an industrial beekeeping company, so we don't sell a lot locally. Most of our honey we sell to other company's who use our honey as their own. But locally, we sell regular, filtered honey in a few stores. We don't really venture into different flavors. I can't remember exactly how much we sell our honey for (it depends a lot on who we are selling it to and what our year was like).

theeyeofevil1 karma

oh.. that's good. So is there like any contract with those company so that produced honey gets sold as soon as it is produced? How much do you produce approximately?

PnO_Mader1 karma

I am not for sure how much we contractually have alotted to different companies, but depending on a lot of factors, we produce between 50 fifty-gallon barrels and 550 fifty-gallon barrels.

dr_amir73 karma

I have heard concerting news over bees population decline in the world. How can we help make bees population more sustainable? What is the major issue contributing to this decline?

PnO_Mader3 karma

There's very little an average person can actually do to help out. I think planting native flowers and plants in your area is a good way to at least support some honey bee populations around your area.

From my little experience within the last seven years, the biggest problem we have with the population is mites. Mites can deform or kill the bees. It is also extremely hard to get rid of the mites because they are an insect that attaches to an insect. That makes it hard to get rid of them without killing the bees as well.

ploopyfuckillmejimmy2 karma

Has a bee stung you in the anus?

Edit: spelling

PnO_Mader4 karma

Not yet, I've been stung on the inside of my mouth though

Happypants20142 karma

I read that as "bookkeeper" and was quite confused. Even more so when people started asking about bees.

My question: will you just continue this, or are you interested in something else?

PnO_Mader2 karma

I would love to continue it, but there may be a time where a different line of work becomes more practical for what I am looking to do in my future.

Happypants20141 karma

What did you study? And will you keep bees as a hobby? Also, is bee charming really a thing?

PnO_Mader1 karma

I am currently studying Business Administration and Philosophy, which aren't the best for learning about beekeeping lol. However, I have learned everything I know from pure experience and personal research, so I know I can continue learning from my other family members who have worked with the bees.

dicklettucetomato2 karma

I have to say I'm somewhat skeptical of honey beekeeping. Honey bees are an invasive species from Europe, and the over-industrialization of beekeeping is part of the reason for colony collapse. As a result, we're seeing the benefits of using native bees, even if they're harder to transport. What do you think is the fate of honey bee keeping long-term? Do you think we'll ever move away from industrialized beekeeping and focus more on raising local bees, or do we rely too heavily on honeybees to ever move away from them?

PnO_Mader2 karma

In my opinion, I think industrialized beekeeping will stay around as long as we can keep fighting the diseases that honey bees come in contact with. My family has been beekeeping for almost 90 years and is still going strong. Native bees are great, but to do the job that honeybees are meant to do on such a large scale, I think having industrial-sized beekeepers is what is best for the planet in our current state.

BLACKJACKFrost2 karma

How much money do you make?

PnO_Mader2 karma

Well as a full-time worker that isn't the boss, I make a decent wage for a college student looking for a job. I won't disclose how much we make as a whole, but we make enough to provide all of our workers with a good life!

NDfinalpaythrowaway1 karma

Some keepers near me had about a dozen of their hives destroyed by vandals. Why do you think people would do such a thing?

PnO_Mader2 karma

I honestly have never understood why people do that. It is really disappointing that people do such things to bees that are just trying to thrive.

kckeller1 karma

Ever made mead from your honey? If so, how was it?

PnO_Mader1 karma

We have (just for fun) and from what I heard it is good!

urbeatagain1 karma

Is it true Tupelo Gold is the best honey produced in the US?

PnO_Mader2 karma

It depends on what you are looking for out of your honey. I, of course, have to say our honey is the best ;) We put tons of hard work in to make our honey as good as possible for our consumers. The biggest difference between Tupelo Gold honey and ours is the pollination source. Tupelo Gold is made in a very small region and from a very specific source, which creates a certain type of taste that people like. Our pollination sources vary depending on the year and location, which changes the color and taste of the honey.

urbeatagain1 karma

Thank you. Yours just might be the best. Does your family sell it on line? Love to buy some and check it out

PnO_Mader1 karma

Sadly, no we don't. We only sell locally in a few stores around central Nebraska.

ZuckAndPray1 karma

Did your parents have to have "the talk" with you, or did you already know about the birds and the bees?

PnO_Mader1 karma

To be honest, I still don't know how the "birds and the bees" works as a good metaphor, so that should answer your question lol

BBQNate1 karma

What is the most challenging part of your job?

PnO_Mader1 karma

Some of the small jobs that you have to do to maintain the business can be very tedious and boring. But they are definitely crucial in being successful. The hardest part I would say is keeping everything maintained and healthy while staying sane lol

TheEpicRock30991 karma

What does it feel like to be stung?

PnO_Mader2 karma

A very sharp instant pain, then some burning afterward. Depending on the severity of the sting, swelling can last a couple of hours or a couple of days.

jascarb1 karma

Many years ago, we arrived home to a kitchen full of bees that had nested in an airbrick (UK). We called in the local bee club who tried to smoke them out but it didn't work. We ended up using petrol (their advice) which ended up being a bit traumatic. What would have been a vegan, non-lethal way to get them to move on?

PnO_Mader1 karma

Well with them swarming like that, the queen must have been in the group of bees. A safe way to do it is to just shake the swarm or scoop the swarm into a super (a box where beekeepers keep the bees). It would obviously upset the bees, but the queen is large enough to fall into the box and it wouldn't be able to fly away. The other bees would eventually follow the queen. As I said, it may not be best in your situation since they were in a kitchen, but that is a non-lethal way to handle the situation.

543380420942308954351 karma

I am 42 and live in the city, I would love to start beekeeping. One of these days I want to get out of the city and get a couple acres to start out on.

What do you say to people that are wanting to get into beekeeping but have little experience? I have a few books but nothing hands on.

PnO_Mader1 karma

Do lots of research. Look at Youtube videos from people who seem trustworthy. Also, try to find some local beekeepers who might be interested in showing you the ropes!

humbuzzer1 karma

Beekeeping is awesome, especially as a younger person. I worked for a beekeeper for about the same amount of time, split the year between almond pollination in California, and honey production in Wyoming and the Dakotas. I had a great boss and he encouraged me to keep colonies of my own which he would place into pollination and bring to Wyoming for honey. Always netted me a good amount of extra cash each year. Any thoughts on building up your own yard/company?

PnO_Mader1 karma

We also take our bees up for the almond pollination in Cali! I have thought about it, but I am waiting until I see what my current college career brings me. If the opportunity arises, I might take advantage of it!

MyAccountThrownAway1 karma

[deleted]

PnO_Mader1 karma

To be honest, I don't know. I am currently studying Business Administration and Philosophy so I am not the best person to talk to haha. However, I'm guessing some institutions have courses or resources for people to learn about queen breeding and other beekeeping practices.

Alleged_Paranoia1 karma

Do you find your work fulfilling? Would you say that you have any sort of relationship with the bees, or is it not like that? And lastly, if you don’t mind me asking, is bee-keeping a profitable business?

PnO_Mader1 karma

I definitely find the work fulfilling. Some of the small jobs get monotonous, but I still find it fulfilling. I dont know exactly if I can say I have a relationship with the bees, but I have a much greater respect for then than a normal person probably would. I dont get scared by them anymore so if they are climbing on me I never freak out or try to kill them. Also if beekeeping is done right, it can be very profitable. Our business has been running for over 80 years and some years we make little to no money, but as long as we prepare for those years, it can continue to be a successful business.

necro_sodomi1 karma

Can we make giant bees? Like cat sized or Chihuahua sized? Make this happen.

PnO_Mader1 karma

I wish, but I don't have enough scientific knowledge to do so haha

drix051 karma

Do you have a favorite type of bee?

PnO_Mader1 karma

Not really, all honey bees are great!

EpicBam22111 karma

Ever got stung? and how bad?

PnO_Mader1 karma

All the time. Probably a couple thousand or so. My coworkers have had many more due to them working there a lot longer than I have. I have had a few stings that have put me out of commission for an hour or so.

Hold_My_Coffee821 karma

How much honey are you able to harvest in a month? Or I guess per harvest whenever and however long it takes.

PnO_Mader2 karma

Depending on the year, the honey flow starts in early May and can go into mid-October. We don't start harvesting the honey until mid-July. The amount of honey we harvest really depends on the year and how many bees we actually have that year. It can be anywhere from 50 fifty-gallon barrels worth of honey to 500 fifty-gallon barrels.

hwhachey1 karma

How do you feel about wasps?

PnO_Mader6 karma

Wasps are little assholes. In my opinion, they have no function besides being annoying, but that's just because I have had bad experiences with them lol

Aliens2u1 karma

What can we do to help?

PnO_Mader3 karma

Honestly, it is somewhat hard for the average person to do a lot. Planting native flowers and plants in your yard or anywhere around you is great for the bees that are around. One other point that I want to make is towards people who are wanting to help by getting their own hive. If they want to do that, they should definitely know what they are doing first. Bees take lots of work to maintain and they can be very difficult to manage without the proper knowledge.

loqbox1 karma

how would you recommend I get involved with beekeeping? I’ve been interested for a while but I don’t know anyone who has bees

PnO_Mader1 karma

Depending on where you are from, keep looking for someone who might have some bees. And I mean more than just a couple hives. Also, there are a lot of good research sources on youtube that show how to handle smaller amounts of bees.

franticredditperson1 karma

I have 2 questions

  1. Is your favorite food honey?
  2. What would you put honey in or would you just eat it raw.

Thank you for doing this AMA :)

PnO_Mader1 karma

I definitely love honey and always will. But I wouldn't say its my favorite.

I put honey on tons of stuff and eat it raw. I put it on toast, peanut butter sandwiches, coffee, tea, tons of stuff. I also love it raw. Having it right out of the comb is amazing also!

chadbrochill121 karma

How hard is it to keep a hive alive during the winter?

PnO_Mader1 karma

As long as you make the correct preparations it's not terrible. We dont have to worry about it because we take all of our bees to California.

TheUpsettter1 karma

No way! I got my hive in October. Does visiting local beekeeping clubs help as much as everyone says it does?

PnO_Mader1 karma

I think it can definitely help a person get the basis of what beekeeping is about and some of the basic practices!

mead_myself_I1 karma

Family business or just kinda fell into it?

PnO_Mader1 karma

Family business for about the last 80 years!

mrskylek1 karma

What do you do with the bees during winter?

PnO_Mader1 karma

We take them up to California to pollinate the almond groves.

BraveMustang1 karma

Do you ever give your bee’s names?

PnO_Mader3 karma

If a bee lands next to me or on me and just chills with me, then yeah I will name them.

snobahr1 karma

I can't get the link to open (I'm using an adblocker, and the site doesn't like them). Are you more interested in the wax or the honey?

PnO_Mader2 karma

We are more interested in honey. We do sell the wax, but it is not our main seller.

groggboy1 karma

Are you behaving in college?

PnO_Mader1 karma

Mostly ;)

ark24681 karma

What does your regular maintenance look like? How often do you check your hives?

PnO_Mader1 karma

There is too much to say in just one post. Lots of medication, treatments, and other things. We also check on the hives a couple of times a month at least to make sure everything is going alright.

booklover1171 karma

What’s the best way to respond when bees are flying near us and acting like they want to sting? I usually get all nervous, try to run, swat. What’s the best thing to do? I’m sure swatting is probably not smart, but it’s natural instinct. Thanks!

PnO_Mader2 karma

Just keep walking or act completely normal. Don't swing at them or move in a way that is unnatural. I have bees land on me all the time and I never have issues as long as I don't start trying to hit them.

OhHiFelicia1 karma

Is it an expensive hobby? I would really like to get into bee keeping but the start up costs terrify me. Bees are beautiful and I feel I could and should be doing something to help the environment and the declining bee population.

PnO_Mader2 karma

If you want to do it right, yes it is. You have to keep them healthy, which can be very costly depending on where and when you are taking care of them.

mrsupersumthing1 karma

Do the bees eventually get used to having their honey harvested? Or do they still keep on stinging every single time?

PnO_Mader2 karma

The stinging is pretty instinctual. So they never really get used to it, but also always leave the bees with enough honey to thrive like they normally would. We also feed them if they ever need any extra nutrients that they can't provide for themselves.

socialcinema291 karma

What kind of honey do your bees produce?

PnO_Mader1 karma

The type of honey mainly depends on what pollination source the bees use. In our case, we use a variety of alfalfa, Russian olive trees, and clover with others mixed in there as well.