This post is a follow-on to Ellie's Op-ed in the Crimson Catalyst: The importance of mentors: Pushing entrepreneurs past their comfort zones.
While I wrote this op-ed about how mentors have helped me with my business, I couldn’t help but think about how important mentorship is for beekeeping. I first experienced beekeeping when volunteering for Stratford Ecological Center in Ohio. The beekeeper, Dave Nobel, needed a helping hand, and I immediately fell in love with the craft. I spent the summer volunteering with him and learning how to keep bees.
When I returned to Bloomington in the Fall, I found a retired IU professor, George Hegeman, who keeps hives at Hilltop Garden and Nature Center. I asked him if he would mentor me to continue my experience from the summer, and we spent the last weeks of fall inspecting his hives to get them ready for winter. When I received a grant from the Hutton Honors College to start hives for campus, he helped me pick out equipment, taught me how to prep it, and helped install the bees.
He continued to mentor me the next few years through issues with the hives and would check in on our hives from time to time. Without these two beekeeping mentors, I wouldn’t have even tried the craft, much less grow it into a business.
Many experienced beekeepers will tell you how important it is to have a mentor when starting out. Because of how mentors have helped me grow my business, I also believe that beekeepers should continue to seek advice as they grow their operation. Here are a few ways to find beekeepers willing to help: