I’m Uri Laio, the Chassidic Beekeeper. I’ve been fascinated with bees since I was a child and never had a fear of them. In particular, I remember catching honeybees in my cupped hands in the clover fields at my elementary school. While I got stung occasionally, I was not deterred (after all, unless a person is deathly allergic, a honeybee sting doesn’t really hurt that much).
In my young adulthood my fondness for bees increased. I caught what is commonly known as “bee fever.” I read books about beekeeping, about the mysteries of life in the hive. Finally in the spring of 2011 I attended a Backwards Beekeepers meeting. As chance would have it (you could call it hashgacha pratis), a man came to that meeting to donate his father’s old beekeeping equipment and I went home with my first honey super and beekeeper’s veil.
From Kirk Anderson and the Backwards Beekeepers I learned about all the problems with mainstream beekeeping. I’ve had a lot of experience gardening and living on small organic farms so I understand the difference between small, natural, and organic, and large, industrial, and petrochemical. I am totally opposed to chemicals and industrial farming; it therefore only made sense to pursue a similar way of beekeeping.
While I love to read and learn, I would say I’ve been most affected by hearing and reading stories of Chassidic life back in the times of the Baal Shem Tov and the early chassidim. Stories from Lubavitcher Rabbi’s Memoirs and A Treasury of Chassidic Tales and The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov.
These stories taught me more than anything else that a deep appreciation for G-d and G-d’s creation is best achieved through direct experience. For me, watching bees build honeycomb and collect nectar and distill it into honey is to appreciate Creation in a whole new way.