Don Studinsky started his apiary only four years ago and - if you'll excuse the pun - he's been busy as a bee ever since. Not only do his 24 hives keep him busy, but he also runs a beekeeping mentor program, collects swarms, consults, provides pollination services, and performs extractions.
How long have you been keeping bees? I started in 2009 when I noticed there were almost no flying insects at the local community garden.
Why is beekeeping important? It's a way to connect back to the Earth upon which all our lives depend. Bees keep me focused on weather, blossoms, water, wind and all the nature stuff I was disconnected from while focused on Computer Science.
How do you share your beekeeping knowledge? I teach beekeeping year-round. Mostly at the apiaries, but also in classroom. I call it my mentor program. I also do public speaking.
Why did you get involved with CNG? Because my efforts to keep bees without chemicals are significant and worthy of special recognition, but the notion of "organic" when it comes to bees is pretty silly - the CNG program incorporates the bees foraging habits and their huge ranges.
What is unique or unusual about your apiary? I am keeping bees in Langstroth, Warre and Top Bar hives. I do this to be able to teach students the different management styles.
What’s your favorite way to use honey in a recipe? My favorite honey recipe is raw honey on a spoon. It's good for you in so many ways. I just eat it.
How do you include customers in your operation? Customers sometimes want to participate in a hands-on beekeeping experience or a classroom experience. I like making the human connection.
What unexpected customer interactions have been especially rewarding? My students are my customers and I am especially pleased when I get to see a student blossom into a competent beekeeper. One of my students is now CNG. That's very satisfying.
Who is your mentor or hero in the beekeeping world and/or food movement? I read a lot and am inspired by many. To pick a few: Tom Theobald, Ross Conrad, Michael Bush.
What do you think is the future of beekeeping in the United States? We happen to live in a time when beekeeping is transforming from a few people keeping thousands of hives to thousands of people keeping a few hives. That's the future of beekeeping. My mentor service is helping with that.
Is there anything else you would like to share? Beekeepers are MUCH too willing to work for free. We wouldn't ask our doctor or our mechanic to work for free. Beekeepers must project an image to the public that our services are worth a price. As long as we continue to work for free, the public will consider our worth exactly that. We’ve got to value our work appropriately.