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Next-Gen Beekeeper: Tameeka Chang

Posted 02/01/2021 BY Donald Vincent

Tameeka_holding _honey_comb

According to the LAND ACCESS FOR BEGINNING AND DISADVANTAGED FARMERS report, 98% of Black farmers were dispossessed through discriminatory practices at the USDA and various federal farm programs resulting in a 90% loss of Black-owned farmland in the US since 1910.

Black beekeepers from Detroit, Atlanta, North Carolina, and all over the US are changing the narrative and reclaiming their agricultural roots for the next generation of beekeepers. For Black History Month, we’re excited to feature and interview Tameeka Chang also known as The Black Beekeeper founder of  Holland Homestead.

Tameeka is extremely passionate about beekeeping and fresh “AF” products such as local NJ honey, homemade soaps, lip balms. Continue reading below to learn more about installing bee packages, the therapeutic nature of bees, and the future of beekeeping.

 

Tameeka holding a frame of bees and honey.
Tameeka holding a frame of bees and honey

 

Name: Tameeka

Preferred Pronouns: She/her

Where do you live: Jersey baby!

 

First Interest in Bees

 

Best Bees: Let’s get into it! What first intrigued you about bees?

Tameeka: After I started getting heavier into growing my own veggies I was noticing I wasn’t seeing a lot of bees around pollinating. I had heard there was something going on with the (honey)bees. After going to my first meeting at my local bee club, I was hooked. They gave so much information and were able to answer. A lot of questions.

 

What was your first experience with bees?
Hmm. I think learning to install a package, which at first is intimidating and exciting at the same time! A package is a box of roughly 3 lbs of bees (about 10k!) It also holds a queen in a cage and has sugar syrup so they have something to eat while in transit.

 

What’s your favorite part about beekeeping?
There’s always more to learn. That and I can watch bees for hours. It’s on a therapeutic level for me to watch them work. 10/10 would recommend!

 

What is your most memorable moment as a beekeeper?
The first time I was able to spot a queen that wasn’t marked. I was like oh yeah!! I felt some sort of validation.

 

What do you think is important about bees and the work you do to care for them?
Knowing that these tiny little creatures impact agriculture globally is pretty wild. Doing my part managing bees to help pollinate crops makes me feel like I am doing something to help my community and the world.

 

How has being a beekeeper impacted your worldview?
I now realize that I have a lot more in common with people than I realized. Beekeepers come in all walks of life and I think that is pretty dope.

 

Favorite Beekeeping Moments

 

Tameeka teaching children about bees next to an observation hive.
Tameeka teaching children about bees next to an observation hive.

 

What’s your favorite part about beekeeping?
There’s always more to learn. That and I can also watch bees for hours. It’s on a therapeutic level for me to watch them work. 10/10 would recommend!

 

What is your most memorable moment as a beekeeper?
The first time I was able to spot a queen that wasn’t marked. I was like oh yeah!! I felt some sort of validation.

 

The Important Role of Bees in our World

 

What do you think is important about bees and the work you do to care for them?
Knowing that these tiny little creatures impact agriculture globally is pretty wild. Doing my part managing bees to help pollinate crops makes me feel like I am doing something to help my community and the world.

 

How has being a beekeeper impacted your worldview?
I now realize that I have a lot more in common with people than I realized. Beekeepers come in all walks of life and I think that is pretty dope.

 

Afraid of Bees?

 

Honesty time. Are you afraid of bees?
Not like afraid, afraid. But I do try to avoid getting stung like the plague though, but not like running away screaming. I know this sounds crazy– but I don’t like when they get too close to my ears. It’s a bit unnerving.

 

The Future of Beekeeping

 

Where do you see the beekeeping industry in the next 10? 20 years?
That depends on a few factors like farming and habitat and pesticides. I am hoping that it continues to grow and that we can find a solution to the varroa mite. I am hoping that we can find an insect larger that can feed on it OR maybe chickens or possums since they eat a lot of bugs!

 

Any lessons for our readers who might want to embark on a similar journey as you?
Join a bee club. Definitely get a mentor! Read as much as you can. I started with a book by Kim Flotum called The Backyard Beekeeping.

 

What’s Life Like When You’re Not Beekeeping?

 

Tameeka and her 3 children.
Tameeka and her 3 children.

 

What are you up to when you’re not beekeeping?
I am a mother of 3 awesome intelligent talented kids aged 19, 17, and 11. My 11 year old is autistic and he keeps me pretty busy! My day job I work with adults with developmental disabilities. I am Vice President of my local union at work and I am 3rd Vice President of my local bee club. I am currently taking a Master Beekeeping course through Cornell. I also grow a lot of veggies and I am growing some fruit as well. I have a decent amount of chickens and Great Dane named Storm who is 8.

 

What’s Next? 

 

What’s next for you?
I am in the process of trying to become a commercial beekeeper. I’d like to get dairy goats in the next year or so. I am also planning a wedding! 

 

How Can We Support You? 

 

Plug time. How can our readers support you and the work you’re doing?
People can donate to me via my website!

Don’t hesitate to visit the Holland Homestead website and introduce yourself to Tameeka. We look forward to hearing more about her work with her local bee club and Master Beekeeping course. The next time you’re able to spot an unmarked queen, you’ll fall in love with bees as much as The Black Beekeeper did. Stop by The Best Bees Blog next week for our next Black History Month feature. 

 

Tameeka and her great dane named Storm
Tameeka and her great dane, Storm.

 

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