This week we meet another new beekeeper and another parent to twins!! (My twin girls are the same age haha). I thoroughly enjoyed Joel's interview from Aurora Bee Company and if you have not followed his Instagram account and Facebook, do so now!
Share a little about yourself and how long have been you been a beekeeper for?
My name is Joel Frieders, I'm 37, married to my wife Julie. We have three kids, ages 9, 7 and 7. Yes, they are twins. No they don't run in my family. Yes, they do now. I run a compounding pharmacy with my family in Aurora, IL, USA and began beekeeping in 2011 under my mentor, Ed Bell of Belfry Bees in Oswego, IL, USA. Since that first year I've gone from two hives, up to eight, then up to 18, and then gradually down to where I'm at now at lucky 13. I started with one location, which turned out to be a not so good location (read: super windy), and then spread my hives out to five different locations in a 26 mile radius.
What was the inspiration that lead you to learn and become a Beekeeper?
I visited Moscow, Russia in college with an agricultural group and kept seeing paintings of honeycombs and statues of honeybees everywhere. During a visit to a large urban industrial farm I saw honeybees working indoors and didn't even realize they were hard at work until someone pointed it out to me. As luck would have it, one of our stops included the first location on the planet where they successfully artificially inseminated a queen bee. My immature attempt at humor turned our interpretor/tour guide my way and she pointed at me and said "you're going to be our beekeeper one day". And then that came true, so I'm wondering what else she said about me that I missed because I was too busy making myself laugh. I hope she said I'll grow hair someday. *sigh* A man can dream.
What has been your biggest personal reward in being a beekeeper?
My biggest personal reward has been turning a half dozen or more friends on to the hobby. Also when I get the chance to speak to kids, or community groups, or government agencies about it, I enjoy seeing people get fired up. Also, the 19 or so jars of honey from different harvests throughout the years is pretty cool.
What has been your biggest challenge in beekeeping?
My biggest challenge in beekeeping has been a mix between overthinking, underthinking, and then realizing that the times I am available to peek in on my bees it's storming and when I'm unable to be with my bees, it's gorgeous outside.
How would you describe you average weekly beekeeping duties?
In the early spring I check in weekly, looking for build up and queen strength. I use a powder protein supplement (which doesn't seem to attract the SHBs like patties do) and some of the available amino acid blends to drench until I add the second super. After the second super is added I go between 1.5 and 2 weeks between visits. If I notice something weird (which is always), I tend to drop down to weekly before the middle of June. Between June and August I check in every two weeks (or more if needed). In September and October I'd say I still go about two weeks between inspections and once we dip below 45F at night I start to prep for winter.
Do you have any tips and advice for newly inspired beekeepers?
My advice is to attend every seminar you can find in your area AFTER you've already made the decision to get into beekeeping. You'll learn more once you have an outlet for what you've learned. I would start with two hives, because there's always the situation where you need to supplement from one to boost the other. I would also ask a local beekeeper to take you out to his/her hives for a few visits and see what is involved with inspections, harvests, extractions, and over-wintering. And most importantly, I would say trust your gut because the old adage of asking 1 question to a dozen beekeepers equals fifty different answers is on the LOW side. You'll overthink yourself into inaction. Go do something.