Many people are terrified of insects with stingers, but not IU sophomore David Ray.
Ray, a geology major, is a brother of Sigma Phi Epsilon and has a passion for beekeeping.
Ray got started in beekeeping because of his uncle, who was also a beekeeper.
“My uncle used to, and I knew a kid who started it and all of his bees died,” Ray said. “So for Christmas we bought all of their stuff that I have now, and then I joined the Bedford beekeeping club.”
Ray now owns his own beehives. He is able to keep his hives going by buying packages of bees and hives from the beekeeping club he is a member of in Bedford, Indiana.
Typically, the bees and their hives are delivered by mail in a 3-pound mesh-box. Once opened, the bees are free to leave the box, but the box is a good set up for them, Ray said. Equipped with wax and frames, they can still come and go as they please from the mesh box.
“There’s nothing that keeps them in the hive.” Ray said. “You can put a whole hive in there, and they could disappear the next day because they found a better spot.”
Since 2013, beekeeping has been one of Ray’s primary pastimes.
“The coolest thing about bees is a bee itself is an organism, obviously, but they say a beehive is a super organism,” Ray said. “You look at it as one single organism, because if the queen dies the whole hive dies.”
Two years ago, Ray said he had five hives going all at once. Each hive typically lasts between two and three years. Since he owns property in Bedford, he was able to keep some of them there.
Now, he only has one hive but plans to get more bees in the spring.
Until recently, it was difficult for Ray to bring people to see his hives, he said. He only had one beekeeping suit until his dad bought one, too.
But he said a suit is not always necessary because people can get really close to the bees without wearing one, as the bees are docile.
“I’ve taken a couple girls to see my beehives,” Ray said. “Ladies love the bees.”
He said some of his fraternity brothers, too, want to see the hive.
“I’m gonna take them out there this spring,” he said. “We’re going down to my cabin to collect syrup, so I’m gonna take them down there.”
In addition to beekeeping, Ray also sells maple syrup at the farmers market, a trade he learned from his grandfather.
“I’m certified, so soon I’ll probably put it in stores and stuff,” Ray said.
Because Ray has his own hives, he has his own honey, too. And though beekeeping is only a hobby right now, Ray said he hopes to turn it into a business, selling his honey and maple syrup each year.
“Bees are really resilient,” Ray said. “They can die off almost half, and the next year they can be alright. They are the only animals that create their own environment to suit themselves.”