I’m back with another inspiring beekeeper! Kate Franzman of Bee Public. Kate is fighting for bees and educating along the way. Read on to find out more about her!
Tell us about yourself. Where do you live? How did you get into beekeeping?
- I live in Indianapolis, Indiana. Despite the reputation Indiana may have for being behind the times, Indianapolis is fairly progressive. Farm-to-table, urban farming, urban homesteading, etc. became the norm here I’d say five or six years ago. Before that, I followed blogs about rooftop beekeepers in NYC and fantasized about doing that here. The next year, backyard chickens became a huge thing here and I lamented one day at lunch, “Why doesn’t anyone do that with bees? We really *need* them, and they’re in trouble. That’s where the idea for Bee Public was born and I started keeping bees the following spring.
How many hives do you manage? How many apiary sites?
- This past year I had four hives at schools and four at urban farms. I choose my hive placement strategically- I want them to be seen by as many people as possible. (Hence the “Public” in Bee Public).
How do you keep track of your hives? Do you take notes?
- I’m generally checking on all the hives myself and tend to keep it all up in my head. Note-taking will be my New Year’s Resolution.
What’s the best part of beekeeping?
- I could sit and watch them for hours, just coming and going and minding their own business. Encountering them buzzing from flower to flower is also magical. Bees are just magical and we often take them for granted.
What’s the worst part of beekeeping?
- Sometimes you just don’t know why your hive didn’t survive, and a lot of times it’s out of your control. It’s also hard to hear people, often well-meaning, intelligent people say things like “I kill a bee whenever I see it.” It breaks my heart.
All new beekeepers make mistakes, can you share one you made when you were a beginner?
- I was so curious and enthusiastic my first season of beekeeping. I opened up the hive way too often. The bees didn’t take well to it and the hive remained weak and eventually got robbed out by a neighboring hive.
Tell us about something funny/interesting/crazy that has happened to you since you became a beekeeper.
- My first season beekeeping, I was visited by multiple swarms. The most remarkable came when I was working on the urban farm, washing lettuce, and in the distance I saw what looked like a giant cloud of gnats hovering over the farm. As it got closer, I realized it was a swarm of bees – I’d never seen so many in the air at once. The cloud converged and landed on the tree right next to me. I stood beneath it and they hummed and I could feel the breeze from their wings. Over the course of maybe 10 minutes, the swarm condensed to the size of maybe a watermelon. Incredible. We ended up catching that swarm and placing them in a hive.
What accomplishment (so far) are you most proud of?
- Last summer we were able to get a resolution passed through City Council, stating that the city of Indianapolis recognizes that bees and pollinators are important, that they are dying at an alarming rate, that neonicotinoids kill bees, and urging all departments in the city to refrain from using neonicotinoids. Now, this was not a law or ordinance, so it’s not enforcible, but Indy is on the cutting edge here — at the time, only 25 other localities had passed any kind of pollinator legislation. Indianapolis has a lot of bee allies- I worked with our City-County council VP who keeps bees in his backyard, the executive director of Earth Charter, and we had some guidance from BeyondPesticides.org. My next goal will be to work with the city to pass something more strict to protect pollinators.
Is there anything new you are working on now that you’re excited about?
I’m working on a partnership with the Indianapolis Museum of Art. They have an amazing garden and orchard on campus. They have their own beehives and I’ve taught some classes there to both kids and adults. We’re working on solidifying a partnership next year. I also plan on releasing more t-shirt designs this year. It feels a little weird to push merch, but it’s all part of getting the word out about how desperatley we need to protect bees.
What challenges have you faced as a female beekeeper/entrepreneur?
In the beginning, it was hard for me to find a bee suit, gloves, etc. in my size, everything was made for large dudes. Now, it’s much easier. In the beginning, I also felt a little shut-out by the beekeeping clubs that meet in my area. I wanted to be taken seriously as a beekeeper, and sometimes I felt condescended to.
How did you or do you overcome those challenges?
Feeling a little like an outsider really forced me to find a different angle with what I was doing and hone it. Education, especially youth education, has become the cornerstone of this project. Beekeeping is almost secondary. That’s why I brought on other beekeepers to help with that aspect.
To be updated with the latest in the apiculture industry to can visit our beekeeping latest news. On the other hand in case you’re starting apiculture and would like to begin professional apiculture now download a copy of our beekeeping for beginners ebook.
Beekeeping can be a full time profession or a simple hobby. Nonetheless, more often than not, what started as a hobby would turn into a profession. But you cannot only decide and tell yourself that you will start to do beekeeping. You need to have satisfactory knowledge and comprehension on the field that you are going to enter, before starting on any hobby or profession. Then it’s about time to indulge yourself in your line of interest, if you have been putting off your interest in beekeeping for quite a long time. Bee farming may not look difficult; by learning the fundamental beekeeping lessons, you can be got off to a good beginning.
What does a beekeeper should know?
On beekeeping to start at the right foot you should have interest that is full. You should have agreed to share your house space. There are potential dangers in beekeeping that can hurt you but your family as well. Your focus is not only to build an income by selling honey; a good beekeeper should have passion and a keen interest in raising bees.
An apiarist should know the right place for the beehives. The place must have sufficient sources of nectar for the bees to get. If you decide to place your beehives at your backyard, you need to make sure beekeeping is allowed in your town. There are several areas limited to beekeeping; you need to get permission relating to this.
Beekeepers must understand whether beekeeping supplies are offered in the place where the beehives are situated. When you must go to a neighborhood beekeeping shop you may never understand; it’s best that a nearby beekeeping store is reachable.
Protective supplies and equipment are also important for beekeepers to understand. Beekeepers are prone to bee stings; the proper ensemble must be worn during beekeeping sessions. Understand the right kind of suit to choose to keep you from any possible risk in beekeeping.
If you are not able to harvest honey from your bees all the efforts that are beekeeping would be ineffective. A beekeeper should know the procedures in collecting the honey from the comb; beeswax is also part of the returns in beekeeping.