From Monoculture Farmer to Homestead Beekeeper

James A ZittingBy James A. Zitting
Guest Blogger – Show Me Oz –

Some of my earliest desires to live sustainably on the land were fueled in my early 20’s by reading Mother Earth Magazine and books by Gene Logsdon, Masanobu Fukuoka, and others. These readings planted a desire in me to live the country life in a different way than I had been raised.

I grew up on a 2000 acre mono culture farm, and at one time my family owned an egg farm with 6,000 laying hens.  Let’s hope I never have to tell stories in the blog about those chickens.  It was not healthy for the chickens and it was not healthy for my young mind.

Reading Gene Logsdon made me think about sustainable agriculture, and the many joys that accompany that lifestyle.  I caught a glimpse of what living closer to the land might look like.  And so I began to dream.  During this time I drove a truck on the Uranium haul in Arizona and I imagined the good life.

I bought my first bee hive about the same time.  Like many first time beekeepers, I closely followed the advice that the professionals recommended, only to see my bees contract every disease out there.  Of course, the professionals quickly informed me about all the medications and chemicals I needed to dump in the hive. Funny thing is, I tried the chemical approach and my bees still died.  I quickly realized that beekeeping was commercialized, and required medications and manipulating to keep up with the latest pests. I lost interest in bees for a time.

I like to tell folks that this down economy has been a blessing for me and my family.  It is, in essence, forcing us to live the good life.  What was a hobby, has now become my passion.  With my wife, Nikki, and our five kids we now keep bees in a sustainable way on our 35 acre homestead that we call Beelanding.  We enjoy showing others how simple and rewarding keeping bees in your back yard can be. Yes!  You can keep bees without any medications. You can work with nature, and watch as your colony of honey bees grows before your eyes, and enjoy the benefits of fresh raw honey and wax.

I have done a lot of tinkering and research into bees and beehives.  I like to experiment and think outside the box.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to make the ultimate beehive for the back yard enthusiast, and more importantly for the health of the bees a better beehive.

James A ZittingJames Zitting is a beekeeper from the Ozarks.  He teaches sustainable beekeeping and creates handmade top-bar beehives for hobbyists, homesteaders and lovers of bees and honey.   His work with bees has led him to redesign the top-bar hive for aspiring beekeepers of all levels.  James writes for his blog, Beelanding and is a guest-blogger for Mother Earth News and The Honeybee Conservancy.  This article reblogged with permission from  Copyright James A. Zitting

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