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The not-so-secret life of bees

Elena Getsios, who just finished her third-year behavioral neuroscience and philosophy major at Northeastern, got a taste for beekeeping after attending an event about the craft a few years ago.

She jumped at the chance to learn more when she saw that the university offered a co-op at Best Bees, an urban beekeeping company located in Boston’s South End neighborhood. The company, founded by Noah Wilson Rich who graduated from Northeastern in 2005, also provided Getsios with something a little different than the normal 9 to 5 office job.

Checking on the health of hives in the city and in fields around Greater Boston was just the “alternative work experience,” that she’d been seeking.

Interior of a crowded van
A frame from a beehive
A woman putting on a beekeeping suit
Two students put their beekeeper suits on
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Q1Ok, let’s just get this question over with. How many times have you been stung?

I was recently stung for the first time. Before I worked here I’d never been stung before. I was kind of waiting, you know, in anticipation to see if it would happen. And yeah, it happened.

Best Bees Besties

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Q2What’s a cool fact about bees that people might not know, something that you admire?

Somehow all the bees just know exactly what they’re supposed to do. They all have different jobs within a hive, and I think it’s really cool that they’re able to communicate with each other. I don’t know if it’s through smell or movements, but it’s very cool.

Also, I love that they’re able to always find their way back home. Like they can be miles away and somehow they’ll just know where their queen is.

Two beekeepers suit up next to a van
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Q3Was there anything surprising or unexpected that happened?

The bees pooped on me. A lot.

During the winter, when I would go and open the hive, I guess they just don’t go out a lot in the winter because it’s cold. When I would come along and open the hive, they’d just start pooping,, because I guess they’ve been holding it in or something.

Bees swarm the many wooden frames in the beehive
Woman in bee keeper suit looking at beehive fram
A close up of bees hovering
A close-up of someone writing a beekeeping label

Q4What have you learned at this co-op that will help your future career?

I really like all my co-workers, and that definitely makes this job so much fun, you know? It’s important. I look forward to coming into work every day, because one, I like what I do; and two, I love who I’m around every day.

A beekeeper checks a frame of a beehive

Q6What can people do to help bees?

One thing that I learned recently is that dandelions are one of the first things that bloom in the spring, and so basically they’re the first sources of pollen for bees after winter. So it’s important to keep those around.

A close up of bees landing on beekeeper hat
A beekeeper surrounded by bees next to a beehive
Two beekeepers inspecting bee hives

Q7What is your favorite bee product?

Um, I mean obviously I think beeswax is really cool, and honey of course. But something that’s really interesting is their pollen frames. The bees fill some of their home with pollen to eat. It basically serves as their protein. Sometimes if you shine those frames in the light you’ll see that it’s super colorful. It’s bright yellow and bright orange, and it also can be red or green sometimes.

Two students in beekeeper suits in front of a van
a bee on a finger
A beehive frame
A student wearing a beekeeper hat and mesh surrounded by bees

Q9Do you have any advice for other students considering a beekeeping co-op?

It’s definitely a lot of fun. I would say that a lot of the job takes place outdoors, so you have to be dressed for the weather. You have to travel around Massachusetts, too. And I would also tell them it’s physical. Very physical. I’ve learned how to lift with my legs now, because if you don’t, you’ll hurt your back.

Another thing is that you definitely see Boston in different way. I’ve been on so many rooftops of different kinds of buildings, and it’s really cool to see the city from up there. Now, whenever I’m passing by, I’ll be like, “I’ve been up there. There are hives there.”

Two women working at a beekeeping company
Beekeeper attending to hives on a city rooftop

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