United States

Meet RSM Pursue Your Passion Winner: Monica Kveton

ARTICLE  | 

PCS Ultra HNW Manager | San Antonio, Texas

Not long ago, my husband and I took up a new hobby, beekeeping, never knowing how easily we would fall in love with these tiny, awe-inspiring creatures. One look into a hive, safely tucked into a full suit and veil of course, and we were hooked. As stewards of our environment, we wanted to know everything we could about them, and soon we were talking non-stop about honeybees and their importance to the environment to anyone that would listen. We read books and blogs and watched entertaining and educational videos online to learn more. We joined our state and local beekeeper’s associations, and we attended classes and our state beekeeper convention.

Our appetite for knowledge led us to learn of our state’s Master Beekeeper program. The program takes a minimum of five years to complete. Designed not only to increase the knowledge of the beekeeper, the program aims to educate the general population about bees through public service credits earned by speaking to non-beekeeping audiences. This was for us. We love learning about the bees, and we love sharing that knowledge. We took the first level exam, and we are officially Apprentice Beekeepers. We earned our first public service credit when we presented at a “Lunch and Learn” at my RSM office. We brought in a borrowed observation hive and gave an educational presentation about the need to care about the fate of the honeybee. My co-workers were very welcoming and eager to learn about the bees, and that made the experience so exciting. We have since spoken to a Cub Scout pack and operated the informational booth at our local pollinator festival.

With schedule limitations, we will take more than five years to complete the multi-level program, but we are in this for the long haul, so that works for us. Of course, the events of 2020 put a pause in public presentations, so we look forward to opportunities in 2021 to teach more people about honeybees. We started with just two hives, but as our curiosity in the hobby grew, so did our apiary. We bought two more hives just a few months after the first, but we also increased our apiary through rescuing feral hives. Upon hearing that we were new beekeepers, a friend told us that there were bees on his property that attacked him when he mowed near them. That is all it took for my husband to engineer a homemade bee vacuum, and suddenly we were in demand to extract them from all kinds of locations - houses, old tires, water meters, just to name a few. It is so important that people call a beekeeper to remove bees that have taken up residence in an inconvenient place, rather than having them exterminated. The beekeeper can relocate them to their own apiary or find another beekeeper willing to adopt them. We currently have 12 hives of our own and manage 16 other hives for property owners in the area.

We are frequently asked about our honey. People are interested in raw local honey and its health benefits, and they want to know if we have any for sale. We harvested a small amount during our first years of beekeeping, but by our third year, some were mature enough for us to harvest 500 pounds of honey. Now we had enough to sell, and we had to decide how to go about doing that. As hobby beekeepers selling less than 2,500 pounds a year, we are required in our state to sell directly to consumers. That means weekends at local farmer’s markets. Although lots of fun, it takes away from time we spend caring for the bees. With our full-time jobs, weekends are for the bees. While mulling this over, we were discovering the joy of giving our honey away. So we made the decision that, aside from very few selling opportunities that easily work into our schedule, we will give away almost all of our honey. Almost everyone we encounter comes away with a bottle of honey. We share with friends and family, and we donate numerous bottles to our local church pantry for the needy. I kept bottles on my desk for anyone in the office to have, and I bring bottles to my clients. I hope 2021 allows me to start doing this again. A bottle of honey sweetens everyone’s day, and giving it away is much more fun than selling it. Our hives are maturing and we hope that 2021 will bring sufficient rainfall and a bountiful harvest. That is exciting to me, because it means we could have even more to give away, and we will be able to supply more than just our local church pantry with honey.

We have small scale extracting equipment, but better equipment will allow us to give away honey for many years to come. If chosen for the Pursue Your Passion program, I would use the funds for observation hives for presentations, teaching and presentation materials, extra bee suits to allow others to see the hives up close, larger extracting equipment, bee friendly plants, and honey bottles and labels. I would use the days off to earn more public service credits teaching at schools and other organizations, to take the exam to reach the next level in the Master Beekeeper program, and to extract and bottle what I hope will be a bountiful harvest in 2021.

Thank you for considering me for this program. I will close with a quote from St. John Chrysostom, which we have chosen to print on our honey bottle labels. It sums up how I feel about the gift of the hard-working honeybee.

“The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.”