"Watching the bees interact is mesmerizing. Bees have a bad name, but they are docile creatures."
Scott Mitic has made a living out of warning consumers about the threat of their personal data getting stolen. But he doesn't give a thought to the possible danger involved in his favorite way to unwind: hanging out with bees. Mitic, 38, is a founder and CEO of TrustedID, a 40-employee Redwood City, California, business that helps protect consumers from identity theft by monitoring their credit reports. Outside the office, he relishes tending to his backyard hive and making his own jars of honey.
The idea: Four years ago, Mitic became fascinated by the cost of gourmet honey. "I wondered what could warrant charging $11 for a jar, so I decided to make my own," he says.
Buying bees: He ordered them online from C.F. Koehnen & Sons. A queen bee and about 12,000 worker bees go for about $75.
Delivery: UPS or the U.S. Postal Service delivers the bees in a crate with screened sides. "Inside you can see thousands of bees buzzing like mad," says Mitic. The company suggests waiting 48 hours before opening the box.
Honey season: He collects honey in the summer, when bees make the most. It entails sticking his hand into the hive and removing the honeycomb, and letting the honey drip onto a tray.
Flavor: Mitic calls his honey a "suburban blend," because the bees make it out of the various botanicals in his and his neighbors' yards.
Gear: Rubber gloves and a smoker to calm the bees. Mitic rarely dons a veil or a beekeeping suit. "I'm not afraid of bees," he says. "Bees don't attack unless they feel threatened."
Total stings: About 12. "I get over it fast," says Mitic.
Personal honey production: Fifty to 100 pounds per season. To make a pound of honey, a hive of bees must travel a distance equal to two times around the earth.
Of concern: Colony collapse disorder, which killed a third of commercial beehives last year. "Everything from pesticides to cell phone radiation has been blamed," says Mitic. "Luckily, CCD is less of a problem for home beekeepers."