My Beekeeping Journey
The Start to my Love for Beekeeping
My name is Chanika Forte’ better known as Nika. I am an Urban Farmer for a nonprofit that grows food to feed the homeless population in which we serve and I started beekeeping in 2017. Beekeeping wasn’t anything that I had been interested in pursuing previously but as I began to get more comfortable in the space I was running and after doing tons of research on the best ways to pollinate my vegetables, Beekeeping seemed like the most logical answer.
At the time we were working with an organization that was going to fund a $250,000 project of revamping the Urban Farm and I suggested that we add Bees to the property. I was lucky enough to get the support of the higher ups in the organization on my idea and started looking for local companies that could help. After many planning meetings we decided to go with a local honey and beekeeping supply company named Honey Hive Farms. I had read so much about what their company was doing locally and also found out that they provided beekeeping training on site.
So I reached out to them and attended their training. What they provide in the way of training is thorough for beginner Beekeepers but still lacking in the overall picture of Beekeeping which I found out later. I did absolutely enjoy myself in the class and was super excited to get started afterwards. Honey Hive Farms provided us with three fully stocked Bee hives and they were so fascinating to me. I could sit for long periods of time just watching them diligently work for the good of all residing in the space. It’s almost hypnotizing to watch them move about. I was super confident in my beekeeping skills in the beginning. I would check them regularly and my bees were so calm I rarely wore a suit when inspecting them.
Just look at me all confident and naive about the potential danger I was putting myself in. Well, not too soon after I learned the absolute importance of Personal Protection Gear. Once I received my first serious sting(s) I knew that I was definitely going to need to adjust my beekeeping habits and find more support in this endeavor.
I joined a number of local beekeeping groups and also found out that one of my farm volunteers was actually a beekeeper herself. Katie was such a help and blessing to me when I started. She showed me how to inspect my hives properly, feed my bees when needed and how to protect them from robbers and other invaders. She was truly my lifesaver.
The more I learned about this magnificent insect the more I wanted to know and experience. So I dived in when it came to knowledge. I started reading every article and book that I could get my hands on about Bees and how to care for them. I am also a member of at least 10 beekeeping groups. In these groups I experienced networking with some of the most thoughtful and caring people I have ever met and I have also come across some really disturbing and racist individuals in my journey which is why I have been motivated to create a safe space for individuals like me to learn and talk about Beekeeping. Beekeeping is such a lost and fulfilling art. So I am making it my mission to support and expand diversity within the Beekeeping universe. Every month I will cover another topic as it pertains to the world of Bees and Beekeeping. Some of these topics covered will include how to engage vulnerable communities in Beekeeping, my Beekeeping practices, my perspective on Beekeeping, my experiences in Beekeeping and How Racism has reared its ugly face even in the most nature loving career fields I have ever been in, just to name a few. I hope that you take this journey with me and that we find ways to love, support and encourage each other to be the face of what Beekeeping is really about. Working together as a group for the betterment of all of us.