First, I want to thank everyone who has been praying for us that I would find a job soon. It is pretty incredible to know that we have people thousands of miles away who care about us and pray for us. Your prayers are greatly appreciated and we have definitely felt God’s comfort through all those who have been praying.
Secondly, I am pleased to say that I have finally found a job! It felt like I was out of work for so long! Before we left, I put my two weeks in at my previous job at Starbucks a little more than a month before I was set to depart, so that I could have time to finish up last minute packing and errands that I needed to do. When I finally got to the Dominican Republic, I wasn’t working for another two months! Now that I have something to fill my time with, I haven’t been such a Debbie Downer (I’m sure Leslie could tell you stories!).
The title of this blogpost is my job title. I work for a beekeeper. It is a testament to how God intimately knows us and our hearts, because he knows that a conventional job is not something that would fit well with me. When we first arrived, I heard that there was a beekeeper living in the apartments with us and that he was looking for an assistant as he had to fire his previous employee. I thought to myself, “What a coincidence, I have been interested in beekeeping for a while now.” So I got in contact with him (his name is Jonatan) and told him that I was interested in working for him. I worked with him for a week, visiting the sites that he has the bees kept and doing projects in the office. Unfortunately he was unable to pay me for this first month because he was still having to pay his former employee. Here in the DR, there aren’t government assistance programs like unemployment, so it is up to the employer to pay their former employee a set amount of money while they find a new job. I thought that this was a closed door.
We were still emailing my resumé to several places in the area and I tried to apply for some online work. We hadn’t heard from anyone and none of the online work worked out. There was also the incident with the Hard Rock Hotel that I wrote about a while ago. I was starting to get discouraged to say the least.
The end of September rolls around, and I still hadn’t been contacted by anyone. It was then that I felt I should reach out to Jonatan and see if he still needed an assistant. At this point he would be able to pay me. He did still need someone, and so I started working with him in the beginning of October.
My first day on the job, we cleaned out the storage shed on the property that he keeps the bees. We moved out old hive frames that needed to be burned, we moved out all the unused hives (which are just wooden boxes), and we needed to sweep the place. During all this we encountered all sorts of critters! We saw three rats, a big spider, an even bigger tarantula, and countless cockroaches. Jonatan had a machete and was trying to cut rats in half! He got the tail off of one of them, but there wasn’t much carnage after that. Just a lot of stomping on cockroaches. We assume that the rats snuck out while we weren’t looking because we didn’t see anymore of them the rest of the day.
After we were done cleaning out the storage shed, we checked on the bees. There are several things that you want to check in each hive to make sure that it is healthy. You want to make sure that there is a queen in each hive. At first glance, all the worker bees look like they are just randomly going about their day, and there are so many of them that it just looks like chaos. But there is an order to how the hive works and runs. Once you can recognize that order, you can tell the difference between a hive that has a queen, and a hive that doesn’t. When a hive doesn’t have a queen, the bees seem lost and have no orders to follow. They look even more disorganized than a healthy hive to the naked eye. The next thing you want to look for is if the queen is laying eggs. Egg cells in the hive look different than the rest of the cells. They are either filled with larva or are capped off as the larva turn into bees. There are also honey cells, food cells, and drone cells. The next thing we want to look for is to see if there are drones (male bees) in the hive. We don’t want there to be too many of those, but every hive needs a few. Drones are bigger than the worker bees. They are longer and wider. The queen bee is long and skinny compared to the worker and the drone bees. We want to make sure that the hive has food, and if it doesn’t, we will feed the bees. We also look to make sure that the hives are free of intruders. We check to make sure that there aren’t any mites, ants, or other insects. Here are a few pictures that I took while working with the bees one day:
We also do a lot of projects in the office. Right now we are focusing on trying to get a clientele so that we can sell the honey to more people. Something interesting about Jonatan’s honey is that it is flavored. I had never encountered this before, so I thought it was very interesting. He uses natural and organic ingredients to make coffee honey, cinnamon honey, ginger honey, chocolate honey, moringa honey, anise honey, orange honey, and of course he has a classic honey as well. We have been filling orders for a gas station and we have been making product for sampling for a super market and the Punta Cana International airport.
We have been incredibly blessed to have found something that not only allows me to provide for my wife, but also something that really interests me. The work is not easy, with hot days and sometimes physically demanding tasks, but I have enjoyed it a lot and it is cool to get to work with God’s creation. Bees are so interesting to watch and to see their natural order. It’s almost like peeking into an entire different world, even though they are part of our own. Thanks again for the prayers!
In God’s grip,
Alex and Leslie