Beekeeping as serious leisure: a study of hobbyist beekeepers and the social world of a beekeeping association

Ferguson, Drew Thompson
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University of Guelph

This study seeks to examine hobbyist beekeeping as serious leisure and the role of the local beekeeping association for its members. Provisioning Theory (Fine, 1988; 1998) was used to examine the role of the Dufferin County Beekeeping Association to determine how this organization provides sufficient rewards for its members for them to continue their affiliation even when secrecy is central to the beekeeping culture. The concept of serious leisure (Stebbins, 1979; 1992) was used to examine the meanings, rituals, and practices associated with being a beekeeper in the Dufferin County region. I also contend that beekeeping typifies the serious leisure category of the hobbyist. Face to face in-depth interviews were conducted with one female and eleven male beekeepers. The transcribed interviews were analyzed using constant comparison and grounded theory methods (Glaser and Strauss, 1967; Strauss and Corbin, 1998 a and b). Themes emerging from the data confirmed Stebbins' six characteristics of serious leisure. Additionally, I describe the necessity of the local beekeeping association to provide knowledge, sociability, and identity for its members. The results suggest that being a beekeeper provides both a source of identity for the individual and a sense of belonging for the participants.

hobby, beekeeping, leisure, Dufferin County Beekeeping Association, Provisioning Theory