Class notes

How-To with Kevin Kegler, MA ’87

Professor of graphic design and graphic design director, Daemen College, Buffalo, N.Y.; small-time beekeeper

 Thomas Kegler in the process of beekeeping

Photo by Thomas Kegler

headshot of Kevin Kegler

Kevin Kegler

Kevin Kegler’s interest in bees started with a casual encounter at an outdoor market.

He would occasionally buy honey from an old-time beekeeper named Gustav Arndt, and couldn’t help but notice the man’s “deep commitment and reverence” for his bees.

“Although he sold the honey,” Kegler notes, “it seemed all about the bees.” Eventually, Kegler received an invitation from Arndt to help him with his hives, and that, he says, is where it all began.

Though not yet an “old-timer,” Kegler shares what he’s learned in the 15 years he’s been raising bees at his country home.

How to keep bees in your backyard:

honey bee

Find an old beekeeper

The beekeeper you find doesn’t have to be old—but he or she has to have many years of experience. The best way to learn how to work with bees is from someone who has done it well for a long time.

Find another old beekeeper

It doesn’t take long to figure out that beekeepers each have their own way to work with their bees. They have different techniques, equipment and approaches; they generally don’t follow a prescribed way.

Don’t let the bees bite

If you have neighbors, research the best placement for your hives so you don’t negatively impact people living nearby. The honeybees’ flight path is above our heads so, if you placed them well, there should be little notice except when they’re foraging in the garden.

Put in the time

You need to put time into your colonies to keep them healthy, especially in this climate. That said, I have a friend who doesn’t put any time into his bees. They live in his porch post, and he just collects honey in the fall. He’s an anomaly.

Have a little sense

If you have anaphylactic reactions to bee stings, you might want to consider raising some other animal. Chickens can be fun.