Welcome to Accessible Beekeeping, where we use research and public funding to bring beekeeping to all regardless of limitations and age. A college graduate in Applied Physics, I was on my way to a Ph.D. in nuclear physics at the Catholic University of America, before I had a car accident that would change my life forever. The car accident gave me a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and seizures resulting in a loss of my physics knowledge. I was lost for a while until my mother; we will call her Hippie Chick, started to keep honey bees in the backyard of our tiny suburban home. Hippie Chick maintained seven hives and even won the good food awards in 2018 and 2019 for her honey. Struggling to maintain physically, I was limited in what I could do to interact with the honey bees and help her. At first, I started recording them and making videos of these amazing pollinators. Then, I moved to dressing out and handling frames as I still could not lift the heavy boxes. At this point, I had the loving guidance of Hippie Chick and had no reason to research accessible beekeeping.
A couple of years later, I suffered a stroke that affected the right side of my body. The stroke put me in a motorized wheelchair and that further removed me from the apiary. Unfortunately, around the time of my stroke and due to the actions of the Home Owners Association, we were forced to shut down our apiary and move our bees elsewhere. This further removed me from honey bees and I felt at a loss on how to get back into beekeeping. While in rehab, I started writing a children's book to teach my niece and nephew about honey bees. Titled Henry Meets a Honey Bee, it teaches about pollination, the gender roles of honey bees, and the jobs within the hive. This book was my therapy as I was unable to draw with my right arm when i began it. After two years of rehab and forcing myself to draw with my right hand, the functionality of my right arm started to come back. While not fully returned, I can do more than I was when the stroke affected me. This book led to traveling and vending at conferences such as the Hive Life Conference in Tennessee.
Hosted by Kamon Reynolds, The Hive Life Conference in January 2022, was an amazing experience. We went to vend our book and help spread the word of honey bees to our younger generations of future beekeepers and left with a lifetime's worth of special connections. After being supported by participants and businesses at the conference, it was suggested that we start a NON-PROFIT to further our goals. What began as a non-profit to put beekeeping in schools slowly grew into a non-profit to make beekeeping accessible to not just kids, but to anyone with limitations like myself. I started a youtube channel and podcast, Accessible Beekeeping and More!, that interviews beekeepers to learn about how they struggle and what they have done to overcome their limitations. We have had blind beekeepers, beekeepers in wheelchairs, and someone with cerebral palsy thus far. The more that I interviewed and researched beekeeping and disabilities, I realized that there was a limited amount of resources for those that would like to keep honey bees but struggle because of physical or mental limitations.
After traveling to Ohio and West Virginia for their spring conferences, our group of advocators grow immensely and on March 21, 2022, Accessible Beekeeping was registered with the state of Virginia. We will be applying for 501c3 status, on April 1, 2022, and after we are approved have plans to grow an experimental apiary that researches, designs, and fabricates different hardware to help make beekeeping accessible. Thanks to early donations of honey bees and hives, we are able to open up the apiary, in May 2022 and start to research and test different hive types giving the pros and cons of each from the perspective of someone in a wheelchair who suffered a stroke, right side weakness and a TBI affecting focus and processing speed.
This will not take away from our educational goals as we are still doing talks and demonstrations to homeschool co-ops, schools, and girl scout troops. Educating the children is part of making beekeeping accessible to everyone, regardless of the limitation or age.
If you would like to make a donation to support our efforts, please do so here.
You can also support our efforts by getting a book and sharing it with a special child, a local library, or a school by going here.
Bee Different, Bee Limitless, and Continue Beekeeping!