Nancy's Beekeepers

Backyard beekeeping has become an increasingly difficult avocation. Changing environmental factors are conspiring against the bees and their beekeepers: climate, pesticides, Varroa mites, weak queens, wax moths, hive beetles, colony collapse disorder, you name it.

But one thing hasn’t changed: the enthusiasm of backyard beekeepers at the start of a new season when it is time to install a new hive. Like so many rites of spring, the arrival of honeybees signals the hope and optimism of renewal after the long New England winter. It is a new season, and promise is everywhere in sight.

This is a series of portraits of backyard beekeepers on the day they picked up their new packages of bees from Nancy Magnion, AKA The Bee Lady, in Woburn, MA.

Each package weighs about 3 lbs. and contains around 12,000 honeybees. A few hours after these portraits were taken, each beekeeper pried open the lids of their screened box and shook the bees into an empty hive creating a new honeybee colony.