We know you’re not “just a lawyer.” Members of the Denver legal community have an extraordinary wealth of skills, hobbies and talents outside of the law. For instance, are you also a stand-up comic, a writing whiz, an animal enthusiast, culinary virtuoso, or a casual rock star? Do you have the best stamp collection this side of the Mississippi? We want to hear about it—and so does everyone else! The Docket is starting a feature contest to find these talented, inimitable lawyers with the coolest side gigs!
You can submit an application for you or a friend—all you have to do is email Courtney at firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief paragraph that includes name and law practice, and outlines the hobby/side gig you think readers will want to know about. After May 1, we’ll choose our favorite side gigs, contact you, and feature these stories in The Docket throughout the rest of the year.
To kick off our contest, we’d like to give you an example of a really cool side gig: bee keeping! Our very own Docket Committee member, administrative law judge and past DBA president Craig Eley is a “backyard bee keeper” and has bee hives in several locations around Denver.
This hobby began about five years ago, when Craig and his family went to the dollar movies to see “The Secret Life of Bees.” The story hit home with his daughter, Laura, who was concerned about the bee shortage, and she asked Craig if they could start their own bee hive. So, Craig went online and ordered a box of bees and a queen bee. He took a bee class and bought the uniforms and equipment.
“It ended up being the most expensive dollar movie ever,” Craig chuckles.
A few months later, the bees arrived and their first challenge was installing the hive. Just a few days later, however, Craig’s daughter found out that she’d gotten a job teaching in Honduras. Luckily, Craig’s son was willing to help with the bees as well.
Now, Craig and his family have seven bee hives. One is on their property in Denver, while the rest are spread between their church and other friends who wanted them for pollination purposes. Craig still takes care of all of them, checking in about once every two weeks. At full strength, there are up to 60,000 bees in just one of those hives.
“I deal with lawyers all day, and then go home and relax by dealing with thousands of venomous insects,” Craig jokes. “But really, it’s a fun hobby and it’s good for the environment.”
In the late summer, they take whatever honey the bees won’t need to survive in the winter. Craig belongs to the High Land Bee Keeping Club, which owns extractors for the honey. After straining it, Craig and his family bottle the honey. They typically end up with a couple hundred pounds of honey a year! Since there’s a bee hive on their church grounds, Craig often sells some of the honey to benefit church projects, such as sending kids to school in Rwanda. He also sells some at craft fairs to offset the cost of raising the bees.
Craig believes that backyard bee keeping may be the answer to “disappearing bees,” or colony collapse disorder. It can help make up the number of bees lost each year. So, the more people who take bee keeping up as a hobby, the better it is for the future of the bees. It’s easy to get started—just sign up for one of the many courses offered around Denver. Before beginning on your bee-filled journey, Craig recommends reading “Beekeeping for Dummies.” He says it’s a good barometer to determine if you’d be a good bee keeper—you’ll either think “Sure, I can do that” or “No way!”
Surprisingly, bee keeping actually does have something in common with the law, according to Craig. “Just like the legal profession, you’ll never be able to learn everything about bee keeping,” he says. “There’s always more to learn, and you ultimately learn through experience.”