Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Job: Meet Beekeeper Hilary Kearney

The gal behind Girl Next Door Honey gets down to bees-ness


Photos by Paul Body

Rule No. 1 is, don’t upset the bees.

“One thing that makes them angry is when you lift and move them,” Hilary Kearney says. Which is too bad, since that’s a big part of her job. Thankfully, she has gear—and eight years of experience—on her side.

Aside from her armor of a bee suit, gloves, and smoker, Kearney’s cool and calm demeanor is her best defense to keep the pollinators happy and reduce stings—though when you’re working with this many, this often, a certain amount is unavoidable, and she’s stopped keeping track of how many she’s received.

The gal behind Girl Next Door Honey has her hands in hives all around the county, from her own backyard in National City to residential rooftops near downtown, answering house calls for removals and delivering the hives (in her Prius) to homes pleased to host them with her management.

Kearney got turned on to the trade in college, when she bought a beekeeping book for her fiancé, who was taking an entomology class at the time. She ended up reading it, and took up beekeeping as a hobby while finishing her degree in studio art; she launched her business in 2012.

She specializes in natural or “foundationless” beekeeping, which means when she rehouses bees into a new hive box, she gives them just the framework to build their own honeycomb, rather than a premade plastic comb to build from.

Honey harvesting is just one part of her business—education being the primary aspect—but it’s one of her favorites. “Eating a chunk of honeycomb is one of the best things in life,” she says.

Because of the drought, she wasn’t able to produce a substantial amount of honey until last year. Now her living room is full of jars. Another reason for reduced production is the recent decline in bee populations, which Kearney blames largely on neonicotinoid-containing pesticides that weaken bees’ immune systems.

To that effect, education and outreach has grown into the real buzz of her business, which hosts classes for adults, kids, and fellow beekeepers.

Then there’s Kearney’s platform of 50,000 Instagram followers, where she’s able to “beek out” (i.e., geek out) with other keepers and educate with fun facts. Like, did you know it takes one worker bee’s entire life to make just seven drops of honey?

She’s even coined the hashtag #queenspotting, a riff on Where’s Waldo, for finding a hive’s queen. She’s adapted the name into a book, slated for release within the next year, that she hopes could inspire other women to enter her trade—because, as her business proves, “You don’t have to be bearded and over 50 to work with bees.”

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

On the Job with Hockey Player Jordan Samuels-Thomas

The former Gulls player takes a shot at mentoring San Diego youth on the ice

Julie Darling Named 'San Diego Magazine' Woman of the Year

Plus four other women are recognized at the 13th annual Celebrating Women event

Rob Lowe Shares Personal Stories at Balboa Theatre

The actor talks The West Wing, secrets to a happy marriage, and his upcoming one-man show, Stories I Only Tell My Friends
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Best of San Diego Party 2018
  2. The Best of San Diego 2018
    We crown 103 winners in food, shopping, fitness, kids’ activities, and more
  3. Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants
    Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants
  4. Javier Plascencia Eyes Barrio Logan
    The award-winning chef is all over Mexico, but looks to make a San Diego comeback
  5. A Sneak Peek at ‘The Heart of Rock & Roll’
    The Old Globe’s newest world-premiere musical promises a familiar soundtrack and all the good feels of an ’80s rom-com
  6. What San Diego Women Want
    53 working women share their compelling stories on navigating pay equity, the baby penalty, #MeToo, and more
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags