When we saw this ‘what if’ come in from Nicholas, we were floored. After all, it’s not everyday you hear about someone moving from the Marines to a career in beekeeping:
“I left the US Marines after 12 years wondering what if I could become a farmer? I always wanted to be a farmer and decided that with the collapse of the honey bee looming I would become a bee farmer and save the bees. I worked really hard from 2014 till now learning all I could and spending as much time as I could keeping bees. In 2017, I attended Heroes to Hives, a veteran beekeeping education program and MSU extension. In 2019 I attended the Michigan veteran entrepreneur lab, a vets business class put on by GVSU, I won first place at their final showcase and got 5k in startup capital. With my knowledge from Heroes to Hives and MVE as well as the capitol I was able to go from 5 to 70 hives since April and I haven’t looked back. I’m now well on my way to becoming a full time beekeeper and loving every minute of it.”
We checked in on Nicholas to see how the beekeeping is going. Here’s what he had to say:
We absolutely loved your story of becoming a beekeeper – how’s it coming along?
My start as a beekeeper was a rough road, keeping bees alive in North America is very difficult but thanks to lots of very dedicated people and a few veterans programs, I’m well on my way to accomplishing my dream of being a full time beekeeper. The bees teach me something everyday and it’s rewarding to grow as a beekeeper just as my apiary grows larger each year.
What inspired you to pursue this goal?
I decided that after 12 years in the Marines I wanted to pursue a different career than the military. I wanted something meaningful and peaceful. Our family had a farm north of Grand Rapids, Michigan and I made the choice to move home and become a farmer. Then one day my wife came home and said that she had signed me up for a beekeeping class. I went and became obsessed with bees and caring for them. When we moved after my service was over I began to keep bees and knew I wanted to do nothing else for the rest of my life.
What’s a typical day look like for a beekeeper?
Inspecting hives, checking for disease and making changes where needed. There’s always new equipment to build or the next big task to prepare for. Beekeeping is like being a scientist, carpenter, farmer and sometimes a magician.
What’s your advice for others who want to chase their what if?
How bad do you want it? I ask myself that question anytime I have any struggle or adverse moment ahead. If you want it so bad that’s it’s all you think about, don’t think about what you can’t do today. Instead live so every step you take is one closer to your goal. Find a way to make it work, find ten different ways to make it work and never stop. Listen to those who support you positively, they are your cheer section, listen to those who have constructive criticism, they keep you grounded and on track, listen to those who say you can’t do it, because that stuff should be your rocket fuel when the chips are down. Because it’s your dream and you’re here to prove it. Most of all, listen to your heart, if you are quiet enough you can hear God speak to it.
What’s currently inspiring you? Books/Podcasts/Music/Etc.?
Books I’m currently reading are Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins and 12 Rules for Life by Dr. Jordan Peterson. The podcasts I listen to are Proactive Faith Leadership podcast and The Joe Rogan Experience
Here’s Nicholas pictured in his element: