"I find beauty in watching a bee dance through sunbeams as it searches for its next nectar source"
Meet Manda! Manda shares her passion for bees through her Kauai beekeeping business, Mcphee's Bees. Keep up with her little bees on instagram @mcpheesbeeskauai
Manda and me met on a sunny day, and parked our pickup trucks off the road. She gave me a bee suite, boots, and gloves. Manda put on her tie dye bee suite, threw her hair into a ponytail, and laced her leather boots. We entered a lush apiary, where she prepared the bee smokepot, calmly notifying the bees of our arrival. Colorful (or as Manda says "smushed up rainbows") bee houses popped out of the jungly space.
"I manage and operate 4 apiaries on Kauai, create and sell honey products, propolis tincture, beeswax, and other specialty items from the hive."
"My first encounter with the world of beekeeping was completely accidental. Years ago, while I was working a restaurant job, I picked up a second job, as many residents do on-island. It was a painting project, which turned out to be painting bee boxes for a local beekeeper. Several weeks into the job, I got an opportunity to visit the apiary and suit-up. That day changed the course of my life and ignited my passion for bees." Manda then beekept for five years as a hobby, and then opened Mcphee's Bees in 2011.
"Most of my work in the apiary during the rainy season consists of observing the bees at the entrance of the hive and maintaining landscaping around the hives. Due to high humidity and rain, it's best to minimize opening the hive this time a year, which breaks the propolis seal they create to protect from moisture and intruding pests."
"We looked at bee populations and frames to see if the bees were bringing in nectar into the honey supers (which is the honey box on top of the beehive)." We were even lucky enough to have our Nat Geo moment as Manda searched and found a baby bee hatching.
Manda will sing to her little ladies (the vast majority of bees are female) sweet tunes.
"I came to island to visit and help take care of a friend who had terminal brain cancer. Coming from Kansas, I absolutely was mesmerized by the beauty of Kauai, its community, and the island lifestyle. It's been almost 20 years and I am so grateful to call Kauai my home."
"My time spent in nature, just observing the bees and all their behaviors, is very gratifying. I also love gaining a deeper understanding of how weather patterns, which plants are flowering, and the changing seasons, all greatly affect the inner-workings of a bee colony."
"I find beauty in the very simple things in life-- Picking fruit and harvesting food, seeing which new flowers have bloomed each day in the surrounding area, watching a bee dance through sunbeams as it searches for its next nectar source, observing a queen moving throughout her colony with her attendants----- These are all things that I could spend hours doing every day!"
"When I'm not in the apiary or bottling sweet gold, I enjoy spending time in nature with my daughter, looking for beach treasures, star-gazing around a campfire, and sharing laughter and a home cooked meal with good friends!"