Log In

Reset Password

Beekeeping is my life’s calling

First Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Next Last
Spencer Field rescuing a bee hive in a tree that was toppled by a hurricane (Photograph supplied)

Spencer Field felt a rush the first time he opened a beehive.

As he peered under the wooden lid, thousands of little worker bees looked up at him.

He remained calm, and so did they.

“They take their cues from you,” he said.

Unlike some on the course, taught by Quincy Burgess, he was more concerned about missing out on something important than getting stung.

He’d tried bartending, home maintenance, landscaping and construction, but here, finally, was his life’s calling.

“I loved plants and could see the connection between bees and horticulture. I just loved it,” he said.

“I really do enjoy learning new things and was eager to dive in and get a close look from a professional on how bees live and work.”

It took nearly a decade for him to start his own beekeeping company. The 28-year-old opened Passion Fields: Maintenance and Beekeeping Ltd last year.

Mr Field’s considerable construction skills are on offer in addition to his bee expertise.

“I have always worked in the construction trade, part-time or full-time,” he said. “I have many skills including carpentry, drywall and painting to fall back on so I also do home maintenance work like roof painting as part of the business. So far it has been lucrative and rewarding.”

The varroa mite was the reason it took so long for him to get the business up and running. The mite had just begun decimating local hives in 2009, industry veterans were reluctant to give one to a rank beginner.

To keep learning he joined the Bermuda Beekeeper’s Association and, three years ago, got his first hive.

He’s added to his collection, mostly by rehoming nuisance swarms, and now has more than 30 scattered around the island. He hopes to have 75 by the end of the year.

As he’s addicted to honey, it’s a huge help.

“I eat honey on everything,” he said. “I have it in my coffee. I put it in my burgers. I make a salad dressing out of it and a glaze for chicken. I’ve thrown out all my white refined sugar. Honey is healthier.”

As bees are temperamental, stings happen every day.

“It’s easy to squash one when you have thousands of bees crawling around and only a tight space to work in. When you kill one it releases a smell for them, and they’ll react angrily whether or not you’re using smoke to make them docile. I like to take my time and go through the hive very gently. I like to think they appreciate and remember that.

“They don’t like foul smells. They can react if a person comes around them who is very dirty or has strong perfume on. I like to think they have gotten used to my smell. Stings hurt but you get used to it after awhile. I always use a protective suit.”

Although Bermuda’s bees are becoming more resistant to the varroa mite, it’s still a problem. Beekeepers also have to fight cockroaches, ants and moths, all of whom are interested in hives.

“I place screens at the bottom of my hive,” Mr Field said. “That way when a mite falls off a bee, it falls through the screen and out of the hive. Once it’s out it’s unlikely to make it back in. Keeping bees is a lot of work but there is something very satisfying about knowing that I am helping to sustain the bee population which helps to sustain a lot of other plants and animals.”

He’s not against sharing his expertise.

“For $1,200 I’ll install and maintain a beehive for you,” he said. “You get $1,200 worth of honey out of that. Some of my clients are guesthouses who sell the honey to their guests. The hive is guaranteed for four years. If something happens I’ll replace it free of charge.”

He also extracts nuisance bee swarms from homes and businesses.

“The effect that bees have on some people is quite humorous,” said Mr Field. “Some people are quite enthusiastic the bees are getting removed. Other people get a bit sad when they realise the bees won’t be on the property anymore.”

So far this year, he has saved 25 hives from destruction.

One of his most difficult bee retrievals was on Smith’s Island.

“They were in a chimney, up two storeys with a 9ft rise,” he said. “I had to ferry all my gear over by boat, then put it onto a golf cart and drive it to the client’s house. Then I had to get it all onto the roof. I needed two ladders and a long rope to winch up all my supplies.”

He uses a bee vac to gently suck the insects into a holding chamber, which becomes their home. It’s less harmful that way since bees can die from stress.

He begs homeowners not to spray insecticide as it kills the bees and makes their honey unusable.

“Most bees that have survived the varroa mite have strong genetic traits,” he said. “Killing them seems a shame. If you kill them you have lost those genetic traits.”

Contact Passion Fields Maintenance on Facebook, 704-4411 or fieldshivesandhoney@gmail.com.

Spencer Field handling a rogue swarm (Photograph supplied)
Spencer Field checking the hive (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Spencer Field building a new bee hive (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Spencer Field checking the hive (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Spencer Field's bees, back from collecting pollen (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Spencer Field, right and a young student (Photograph supplied)
Spencer Field with some of his hives (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
I mean bees-iness: Spencer Field checking the hive
Spencer’s bees (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Spencer Field checking the hive (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Spencer Field examining his bees (Photograph supplied)
Spencer Field with some of his bee hives (Photograph supplied)


• They can fly in 60 knot winds.

• There are seven different types of honey bees in the world and Bermuda has six of them.

• Bees only live for 12 weeks. They take on different jobs throughout that period.

• In the peak of summer, the queen can lay up to 1,000 eggs a day.

• They are one of the few species on earth that control how many eggs they lay.

• A worker bee is sterile.