Eusocial Insects Meet Social Media
Reading Time: 5 minutes
By Britney Bowman It’s the age of social media, and while TikTok dances and Snapchat filters are still taking the internet by storm, there’s something new causing a buzz — bees!
With over one million hashtags and counting, #honeybees are quickly gaining the attention of Instagram users, and beekeepers are taking advantage of the hype. Not only are they jumping on the opportunity to spread education and awareness, they’re also finding genuine community.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with a few of the platform’s most successful beekeepers, Carmen of @noogahoneypot, and Matt and Sarah of @homesteadinthehood. The three told me all about the impacts that social media has had on their careers and on their hearts. Here is what they had to share:
Britney: Can you give me a little background info on yourself and how you got started with beekeeping?
Carmen: I’ve always been inspired by the natural world. My dad was a beekeeper, and he’d come home with stories about bees, and I always thought it was really interesting (and a little bit terrifying). Three years ago, when I bought a home of my own, I knew I wanted my own bees. I started studying and researching during COVID and ended up getting bees the following year.
Matt and Sarah: We got married in 2010, and I got Sarah the first beehive for her birthday in 2019. We had started seeing bees in our garden and Sarah got interested and realized that people keep bees as a hobby. So, she did tons of research and dove in. As soon as we got the actual bees, Matt said, “I want this to be my full-time job!” And it went from there; growing and experimenting until Matt quit his day job in March of 2022.
Britney: How did you come to find the beekeeping community on Instagram?
Carmen: I’ve been on Instagram with my art for a while and as I started reading more about beekeeping, I found myself looking up the names of and following lots of different beekeepers. I find that most are very supportive, encouraging and willing to help. I’ve made great connections with other beekeepers in my region and I’ve even met some of them in person.
Matt and Sarah: We feel like we kind of created our own beekeeping community on Instagram! We created the hashtag #LoveYourLocalHive and that gathered a lot of other beekeepers around us where we could all ask questions and help each other problem-solve.
Britney: What impact has social media had on your career as a beekeeper?
Carmen: Social media has had a big influence on my beekeeping for many reasons. For one, I’ve come to learn that beekeeping is popular all over the world and I’ve been able to connect with beekeepers from not only the U.S., but several other countries. It’s been amazing to learn the differences between keeping bees amongst different regions.
I recently gained about 100,000 followers due to a few of my Reels going viral. While at times it has been overwhelming, overall, it’s been an incredible experience. I’ve realized just how many people LOVE honey bees! Not only that, but people have been very eager to learn about bees, and I’ve started doing more honey bee education through my social media. It’s been a great opportunity to teach people about beekeeping as well.
Matt and Sarah: It has challenged us to be knowledgeable, but not over the top. We want to be able to explain the wonder of the bees to people who aren’t beekeepers, but keep it interesting for beekeepers as well. We try to humanize the bees a little bit to make them less intimidating for people who are generally scared of bees. As we have grown, more and more people come to us for support and advice, which has kept us on our toes and made us learn more about beekeeping challenges that we don’t necessarily have here in Colorado.
Britney: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from someone on social media?
Carmen: The biggest lesson I’ve learned from someone on social media has been from @girlnextdoorhoney. I’ve learned that it’s okay to stand up for myself and other women, and that I need to set (and keep) boundaries. Since going “viral,” I’ve had a handful of people complain that beekeepers are destroying the environment, killing native bees, that we steal the bees’ honey and that honeybees don’t need to be “saved” because they are invasive. I like how Hilliary from “Girl Next Door Honey” calls people out when they are wrong. It sets a precedent for other beekeepers, especially women. As a female in a field largely dominated by men, it’s easy to get dismissed. It’s important for other female beekeepers to see women standing up for themselves.
Matt and Sarah: We got our first hive host through Instagram and that has been the foundation of our model and ability to earn an income from the bees. We also learned about slatted racks from @indigoacrespollinatorsanctuary and that had been hugely helpful for us and something we recommend to every beekeeper.
Britney: Anything else you’d like to share on the subject?
Matt and Sarah: We love our Instagram peeps and hope that someday we’ll be able to do a driving tour to see all of their apiaries.
To learn more about these incredible beekeepers, be sure to give them each a follow on Instagram — @noogahoneypot and @homesteadinthehood. There is room for all of us in the social media beekeeping community, and we each bring something new to the table. Log in or create an account today to join in the experience!
Hashtags to check out and follow:
BRITNEY BOWMAN is a writer, artist, and pollinator advocate in Black Mountain, North Carolina. She is passionate about empowering women, queer individuals, and other minorities in STEM fields. You can follow her journey on Instagram at @mrs.bs.bees
Originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of Backyard Beekeeping and regularly vetted for accuracy.