Hi! I’m Bruce Jenne. Thanks for stopping by.
From the moment I set up my first two hives in 2013, I have been obsessed with honeybees. I have learned from books, videos, Facebook, and local beekeeping friends and from others all over the world. I have tried and continue to try new things regularly with my bees. I have an open mind and by doing so feel like I am able to better manage my hives and hope to see continued growth with minimal loss.
Why on earth would I want to keep bees?
I have been interested in nature and how it works from the time I was very young. Insects have always fascinated me for some reason. I was raised on a farm in a town called Newton which is located in southeast Alabama. Anyone familiar with the south knows there are a lot of bugs around. While many people are terrified of insects, I was never really afraid of them. As a matter of fact I collected and mounted insects as a young kid and my collection was pretty impressive for someone my age.
As time progressed I went on a mission for my church, went off to college at BYU, and fulfilled a lifelong dream of playing college football. I married my beautiful wife Annette and went to physical therapy school. We started a family and settled into a routine of raising our 4 wonderful children. We bought a house in Dothan, Alabama, which is located near my hometown. So we have all the benefits of living in town, but we also have access to the farm where I was raised. I was busy and successful in many ways, but was always looking for new opportunities and even tried a few things.
In 2012, I heard this talk (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/be-anxiously-engaged?lang=eng) from the General Conference of my church. It describes many of the attributes of honeybees and how they work together for a common cause, much like individual members of the church are able to contribute and work together to perform great things. Around that time I was working as a home health physical therapist and one of my patients had some beehives. He told me some fascinating things about the bees and I began to think about giving beekeeping a try.
My father was very ill and so I did not want to trouble my mother with the thought of putting bees on her property right then. At the time bees were way down the list of priorities. My father fought pancreatic cancer until finally, on January 22, 2013, he passed away. He was and still is the best man I have ever known and I hope to live a life that will honor his legacy.
Once things settled down I asked Mom what she thought about putting some bees on her property. She thought about it a little while and agreed, so I decided to give it a try! It was in late April when I made the decision and by then bee season was in full swing here in Alabama. I began to research about honey bees and realized that I actually knew nothing. I didn’t even know what a frame was! I had no idea what the inside of a beehive looked like, but I was anxious to learn.
I did some research, made some calls, and found out about a local man, David Eldridge, who along with his wife Rena, have a company called Honey Bees Galore in Ashford, Alabama. David helped me figure out what I needed and within 5 or 6 days of my decision to get some bees, I picked up my first two hives.
It was Saturday, April 27, 2013. That morning my friend Nathan Chase went through some of his hives with me so I could gain a little experience. Then I drove over to Honey Bees Galore and picked up my first 2 beehives. As I pulled into the driveway David had just caught a swarm from a tree in his yard. There were beehives everywhere! It was an eye opening experience. I purchased 2 nucleus hives, which were placed in full sized 10 frame hives. I took them to the farm and set them up and I was hooked. About a month later my brother bought 2 hives and I also bought 2 more. From then until noiw I have never looked back!
Honeybees have been my obsession from the moment I set up those first 2 hives. I have learned so much but there is still so much more to learn. I had years where I lost a large percentage of my bees and years where I lost very few. There have been many ups and downs along the way, but I have loved it all for the experiences it has given me. There is nothing quite like keeping bees. For me it is therapeutic, and I want to have bees for many years!
I have had many experiences and adventures with my bees. I have seen colonies grow and I have seen them die out. I have caught swarms on limbs and in bait hives. I have done cutouts and even performed a trap-out. I have split hives using different methods. I have harvested honey, processed wax and made lip balm. I have tried keeping bees without treating them and I have treated my bees to keep them strong. I traveled to see how others keep bees. I have watched countless videos and even created my own YouTube channel (brucesbees). I have had hives that produced a lot of honey (the most was 315 pounds) and some that produced none. I have built equipment and even injured and ultimately lost a finger due to a table saw accident. At times I have been very discouraged but I am committed to being the best beekeeper I can be.
My goal with this blog is to share my experiences with you. There is still so much to learn. I will certainly make mistakes and I am sure I will do things differently from some. I do not always do things the traditional or generally accepted way. Sometimes I have learned through failure that the traditional methods are best, but other times I have seen tremendous success when I have stepped outside the box.
I hope to give you some insight on what it is like to be a beekeeper and grow a bee business. I hope that you will be willing to take this ride with me. Right now Bruce’s Bees is small, but growing. Who knows what the future holds? Come with me and find out. Let’s do this together. It’s going to be fun!