Bay Area Beekeeping Since 1916
Ms. Alice Rosenthal is the 2013 Treasurer for the Alameda County Beekeepers’ Association.
Ms. Rosenthal was first presented with beekeeping in 1979 through a high school career questionnaire, but rejected the idea in order to pursue an MBA in finance at New York University. After leaving NYU, she turned to travel for about a decade, pondering third-world development and agribusiness until she moved to California to work in the film industry.
Eventually Ms. Rosenthal purchased a home in Los Angeles where she again took an active interest in horticulture, planting exotic fruit trees and joining the California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG), complementing her passion for fresh fruit.
In 2005, Ms. Rosenthal moved to the Bay Area to begin a new garden and raise her child. Inspired by others in CRFG, in 2006 she began to actively study beekeeping as she was looking for a new career, studying books, journals, and online articles. She joined many Bay Area bee clubs connected with experts outside the area, attended lectures, visited apiaries and volunteered to work with local beekeepers. She notes, “I eat, drink, and sleep thinking about bees.” (2012)
Starting with one empty Langstroth hive, she filled it with bees from her first ‘structural removal’ after posting her free bee services on Craigslist. “It took me 5 trips to El Sobrante, but before I had finished I had built myself a bee vac.” She now runs Bee Happy Solutions, a Bay Area bee service that provides extractions, swarm collection, information, honey, and swarm lure. She manages 150 hives throughout the Bay Area, with many at her home, at her neighbors, and in her local bee-yard. She has plans to build a honey house with a commercial kitchen in the future and is preparing for her Master Beekeeping Certification.
“Keeping bees has given me a way to make a living that I am compensated at a commensurate level to my life’s learning. It has allowed me to maintain my independence by being self employed and it has given me the opportunity to earn a decent living without lowering my ethics or religious beliefs concerning the military industrial complex. Being a beekeeper let’s me contribute to society and the environment in a positive way. That makes me feel great. Keeping bees has allowed me to have an impact on future generations through exposure via educational presentations. ”
Ms. Rosenthal perceives beekeeping to be a natural fit for her as it combines problem solving skills with practical knowledge and an active lifestyle. While keeping a large number of hives in ‘the city’ it a lot of work and isn’t for everyone, she finds it easy with just the right amount of challenge. She enjoys the variety and surprises of daily tasks but struggles with the strain on relationships that ‘on-call’ beekeepers experience. However, in the end, meeting nice people, seeing ‘cool’ places and buildings, and being helpful is a delight to her.
“Some people are very bothered by change – it can be daunting but if you are the kind of person who can change directions on a dime maybe you’d like beekeeping.”
Lessons learned from bees:
I did a lot of reading to prepare for becoming a mother. Brazelton is a well renound expert on child rearing. I guess I have adapted one of his ideas on child rearing and applied it to beekeeping. It goes something like this. “don’t go by the book, read the child”. This is a very powerful statement to me and it really works. Whet it means to me is read, research and learn everything you can about bees – but the bottom line is listen to the bees, be in tune with the bees, do what the bees need (don’t impose what you want on the bees because it probably won’t work). Every child is different. What works with one may not work with another – read the bees.
The Most Common Question She Gets:
“Do you get stung by bees?” I have to admit my answers are getting more creative all the time.
Written from an email interview, 2012-07 JPM