A Maker Profile of Beekeeper Rick Cousins


Maker Faire

As we lead up to B&N’s 2nd annual Mini Maker Faire on November 5-6, we’re spotlighting several Makers who will be presenting at the event during the Meet the Makers session. Today we meet Rick Cousins, a part-time bookseller at Barnes & Noble in Pineville, NC, who happens to be a beekeeper in his free time.

How and why did you get involved in beekeeping?

In 2011, I discovered that millions of bees were dying and I knew that wasn’t a good thing. Since about 35% of the world’s crops are pollinated by bees, if the bees disappeared there would be less food for us. So I decided to do my part and try to preserve the bees by taking part in beekeeping. My first beehive I bought in Charlotte from Libby Mack, who hosts the Mecklenburg Beekeepers Association (www.meckbees.org).

Rick and the hive.

Rick and the hive.

Do you do this a hobby or would you consider it more a side business (e.g., selling honey)?

I treat it more as a hobby than a business. Sure I sell honey, but most of the money I make goes back into the business. It’s more fun and enjoyable just to work with the bees and have my own honey.

Rick with a bee tray.

Rick with a bee tray.

What do you like most about beekeeping?

What I like most about beekeeping is the solitude I get when working with the bees. I also feel the back to nature and the closeness to a higher authority. It’s good to work with your hands out in the open. It’s good to work and sweat and see your work come to fruition. Yes I work hard, but the bees work harder. They work so hard that most bees only live 4-6 weeks. They just work themselves to death.

How do you equate beekeeping with the Maker Movement?

The Maker Movement has the potential to turn people into Makers instead of just consumers. Imagine if every 100 houses had bees. Not only would there be enough honey for everybody, but it might just save the bees. The Maker Movement also focuses on eco-sustainability, and beekeeping is considered an eco-friendly hobby or job. The beekeeper provides a chance for the honey bee to survive, because their demise could be our demise. They are like the canary in the coal mine; if the canary dies, so does the coal miner.

Rick sells his honey.

Rick sells his honey.

Do you have any anecdotes you can share?

One time I was wearing my hood and looking out and a bee was real close—all I could see was her wings and back. It didn’t dawn on me that the bee was in my hood until I heard her fly past my ear and land on my neck, where she stung me. I couldn’t get the hood off fast enough! Needless to say, I learned a lesson to keep my hood and veil away from the hive before putting them on—not next to it, where stray bees could fly in!

Describe your upcoming workshop at the Mini Maker Faire.

The theme is “Have you wondered what it would take to keep honeybees in your own backyard? It’s easier than you think!” The presentation will give customers an overview of the time, cost and equipment needed to start up their own backyard beehive.

Will you join us at your local Barnes & Noble for the Maker Faire? We would love to see you and your family there. Learn more details here!

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