Keepingbeekeepingalive

“At the time when I was a school girl”, says Maple Street resident Ashley Hopkins, “I have never even imagined that there was such a thing as a beekeeper. I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, and I’d never thought about where the honey came from. But when I was living in Springfield County before I moved to the city, there was a beekeeper on the side of the road”.

That was about 10 years ago, and Hopkins, now 35 has been captivated by the world of bees and beekeeping ever since.

She learned her “old-fashioned” beekeeping skills from that roadside beekeeper, and when she moved to Bonham in 2007, she brought her new hobby with her.

“I’m a devoted swimmer for the same reason that I’m a beekeeper”, she says, “because it’s very accessible wilderness in the city, and I’m a lover of wilderness. When you go into the beehive or into the world of the bees, that’s wilderness too”.

When Hopkins began beekeeping in Bonham, she hooked up with an informal beekeepers club of 30 people or so, most of them from the neighborhood.

“We had a community”, she recalls, “some of my dearest friends, still. We were hippies, and we used to meet in each other’s homes once a month, to teach each other”.

“When I got my first bee equipment, it was wonderful. We had a meeting, unpacked the boxes from Texas, and just sat around that night and everybody helped me put my equipment together.”

The beekeeping group eventually disbanded, but Hopkins— who is an income tax preparer, gardener, wife, and mother, as well as a beekeeper— has continued to raise bees, off and on, with the support and help of her husband and her own and school children.