About Lionberry Apiary

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Why we beekeep

A few years ago, while at a fair, Matt ran into some beekeepers with an observation hive where you can see live bees at work. The conversation with those beekeepers fascinated him and began an interest.

A couple years later, while trying to find activities to do as a family, we came across our local bee association (Orange Blossom Beekeepers Association - OBBA) and decided to attend one of their free meetings. The following Saturday, we attended their workshop and were introduced to actual beekeeping.

We were hooked!

From then on, we began reading all the books we could on beekeeping, watching videos on-line, listening to beekeeping podcasts, and reviewing all the information we could get our hands on.

Using some discarded wood, we made our first hive (it was not well done and no longer functions as a hive). We luckily came across a feral hive, which we captured and relocated to our backyard ... and officially were beekeepers!

A family affair

From the beginning, this was to be a family activity, and we include our kids in caring for our bees. Caleb has a real knack for Queen spotting (finding the one queen out of the thousands of bees in a hive) and Ella enjoys helping with the honey harvest. We work together as a team to inspect our hives, to manage the hives (identify diseases, treat them, monitor for pests, etc), and in harvesting honey. None of us enjoy getting stung!

Do we ever get stung?

Yes, but not often. It always hurts, though we do not swell up anymore.

Anytime a person is stung, they should expect a local reaction: The area will swell, become red and warm, and likely itch for a few days. Very few people develop severe reactions as this occurs in only 0.4% and 0.8% of children and 3% of adults.1

What to do if you are stung by a honeybee:

  1. Immediately, try to remove the stinger that will be left in place. It is best to not pinch and pull the stinger but scrape the stinger off the skin. Either way, remove it as fast as possible (within 20 seconds if possible). This limits the amount of venom the stinger injects.
  2. If you have smoke, you can smoke the area as that hides the alarm pheromone (smell) the bee that stung you left on that area
  3. Do not run away, the bees will end up following you - instead try to back away as calmly as you can from whatever they were protecting
  4. Take an antihistamine to minimize the histamine response - something like diphenhydramine
  5. We have found ice, specifically ice cubes, to be the most effective at minimizing the pain and itchiness of bee stings

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Our Fascinating World

We love nature in general. Each of us loves to spend time in the ocean, hiking in our parks, biking along our Central Florida bike paths, and spending time outdoors. As our knowledge grew through beekeeping, we learned more about the plants in our environment. We are now aware of when different plants flower, the many native pollinators that exist in our neighborhoods, the plant life they depend on, and the importance of biodiversity within even our backyards.

One of our joys is seeing our yard full of life. Of course, there are bees buzzing around busy on our many plants and flowers, but since we began having bees on our property, we have seen more birds and more types of birds, butterflies, and other native pollinator species.

A healthy landscape is evidenced through abundant movement, and it is so much fun to see the positive impacts caring for honeybees brings!


1. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Insect sting allergy. Updated February 5, 2018.