Written by Amanda Arbogast
John McComb, a native of Virginia, MN, started beekeeping as a hobby in 2012. As a supporter of the “save the bees” movement, John understands how important bees are to the world’s ecosystem and recognizes the integral role bees play in sustaining human food sources. John has previously tried to sell honey, but the expenses of maintaining a commercial beekeeping operation were too great. Instead, John keeps bees because he loves it and wants to protect the species from extinction.
While beekeeping in northern Minnesota is no easy task, the challenge only motivates John. He first became interested in the hobby when he was stationed in Iraq. Inspired by another soldier’s interest in the hobby, John looked into it himself and learned that the University of Minnesota was at the epicenter of the “save the bees” movement. He has always enjoyed animals, so although he had never worked with bees before, he figured beekeeping would be simple enough. Yet, he soon discovered that beekeeping in cold climates is not for the faint of heart. In fact, many that try to keep bees in northern states fail because it is so difficult. John, however, beats the odds and remains determined. As John notes, “Beekeepers know how important the bees are, and when we have a win it’s a really great feeling.”
For John, beekeeping is an activity for the whole family, particularly his grandchildren. By building bee boxes for the kids and visiting their school to educate children about bees, John’s hobby has become more than an individual pursuit to preserve the bee population. Rather, his passion helps to engage a younger generation in environmental advocacy. Through efforts like John’s, kids become aware of environmental issues and begin to understand all the ways we can help solve them.