Not Travel Related - Just a General Get to Know Travelers - Interesting Hobbies Outside of Travel?

I was just curious about some of the regular posters here on the Tauck Boards. I know many of you may be retired (some are not), and we all like to travel. But outside of travel, what interesting hobbies do you have.

I'm a hobby beekeeper with 2 hives. The girls (as I like to refer to them), have given me many years of ZEN and quiet decompression outside of work and family. I keep the hives in the yard (super docile) and they have been a great discussion starter for neighbors and anyone generally interested. Last year (year 5) was my best year - generating 3 spin off colonies and more than 160 lbs of honey just out of these 2 hives. I spun 27 lbs this past week to start off the 2022 season and there is much more to come. Funny thing, much like we had to make arrangements for our pets next week, I had to make arrangements for a beekeeper to come tend to the girls.


  • edited July 2

    I guess no surprise I am first to respond. Outside of travel, my two main passions are gardening and theatre. I just love gardening, I don’t think I am happier anywhere than tending to my trees, bushes, plants and flowers. My favorite perennials are Clematis, I have many around my garden, I have about fifteen of them alone that trail up the outside of my deck up to the rails and spilling all along them. There are hundreds in flower right now. We used to grow our own vegetable in England, they kept us going all year, but we never really started anything here apart from tomatoes a few times, just too many deer and rabbits. I have a large fig tree in a pot on our deck, and while most people worry about their animals when they go away, I’m worrying that my son will remember to come over and water it.
    We sing in Gilbert and Sullivan shows each year and go to the theatre, A lot, three plays last week alone.
    Other than that, I dabble in everything from sewing soft furnishings, renovating furniture and even laid a patio one time. Oh, and love to write crazy things on the forum.

  • Outside of my passion for travel and creating hard cover photo journals from my photos, I am an avid crocheter. Although I’m not sufficiently creative to create my own patterns, I do enjoy using complex patterns to crochet Afghans, sweaters, vests, potholders, doilies, scarves and shawls. I enjoy using all different weights of yarn, and giving some of my handmade creations as gifts. It is very gratifying when something I’ve crocheted actually fits as intended! I also enjoy creating scenic counted cross-stitch embroidery projects. Also, my husband and I are avid readers—I likely read about 30 books a year (fiction and some non-fiction). Outside of my solo hobbies, I take regular Jazzercise classes, walk, play golf (in the summer), bowl (fall/winter), and play mah jongg (regularly).

  • I am also an avid reader of historical fiction, primarily WW2, and I listen to audio books while in the car. We are always going from one place to another and instead of the news (which my husband prefers), the audio books are a nice diversion. I also make hardback photo albums from the software, Mixbook. I still find that program challenging and I seem to plow through for each and every trip. These books are a labor of love and they're really only meant as a keepsake for us. It becomes somewhat of an issue when the four of us are using 4 different cameras and cell phones in order to get photos in chronological order. I haven't figured that one out either. I also create a slideshow with music from Movavi software, another challenging program. If anyone is interested to see one, PM me with your e-mail. I'm not interested to put them on you tube only because I haven't figured that out. I exercise regularly at the gym and enjoy staying fit and healthy. The days always seem to go by fast. My husband just retired and I am not used to HH (handsome hubby) being home. I'm sure that day will be around the corner.

  • edited July 3

    I'm a beekeeper, also. I have four hives right now but the number varies from two to five. I keep Africanized bees because they can deal with varroa mites. I have a website - I get a LOT more honey than we can use, even giving some away, so I wholesale my excess to a commercial beekeeping friend. She sells at the farmer's market.

    They do not require any tending. The bees do quite well in the wild with no one looking after them.

    Just in case anyone is interested in beekeeping in southern California, I had a short article published in a local magazine about it. You can see it at

    I also am a woodworker, mostly furniture. I haven't done much woodwork recently just because of other demands.

    I don't know if you'd consider this a hobby, but I blog all of our travel -

  • Nice topic dogdoctor. I'm so impressed with your bee keeping since we keep hearing about hives dying off.

    As for me. I dabble in cooking, read (mostly mysteries and some favorite chiclit authors), and do the NYT crossword everyday. However, my main hobby is sewing. Like most women my age I learned how to garment sew early on and even made my own wedding dress. (Not recommended for a stress free wedding). Now I mostly make quilts, home dec and bags of all sorts. Many quilts are given as gifts and many others go to my church's prayer quilt ministry. We make them, pray over them and give them to those going thru medical crisis.

    This quilt used to be my avatar here on the forum before we got the new puppy. It is a very small quilt made for a competition (3rd place out of 20) where you had to use the weird pink fabric somehow. The floor is actually black and white fabric squares pieced to create the perspective. Title is "Modern Art Gallery".

  • Mike Henderson, WOW! The furnishings are stunning.

  • I love driving my Corvette and going to car shows. Even do a little track time usually finishing about 60th out of 40. Also like making limoncello in the fall for holiday gifts.

  • Woodworker and semi-inventor here. My stuff (no website) isn't as nice as Mike's and is all over the place from fine furniture to 3D end-grain cutting boards. I also invented two woodworking accessories that I licensed to two manufacturers. My small royalties are often sent along with other funds to Tauck. :D:D

  • edited July 2

    @Claudia Sails - Love that quilt. You're very talented to be able to design and execute that.

  • Just a little bit of music here. My instruments are more impressive than my playing however. :)

  • Mike and Alan, your woodwork is gorgeous and most impressive. I really admire your skills. Claudia, I love the quilts; they are quite beautiful.

  • Sewing (mostly outfits for traveling), crocheting (some of which I donate to childrens' hospitals), rereading the classics, lap swimming and machine rowing. Spoiling my dog is my favorite activity.

  • edited July 2

    @AlanS - That table looks like a Stickley design. Nice job. Is it quarter sawn oak?

    @dogdoctor - Are your bees European? From the looks of the woods behind the hives I assume you're in a cold weather region, which would imply European. Oops, I see you have a marked queen - Definitely European.

  • Claudia Sails
    Nice topic dogdoctor. I'm so impressed with your bee keeping since we keep hearing about hives dying off.

    Thanks. Sometimes this forum just needs a fun break.

    @dogdoctor - Are your bees European? From the looks of the woods behind the hives I assume you're in a cold weather region, which would imply European. Oops, I see you have a marked queen - Definitely European.

    Yeah, Massachusetts. I run one hive as Italian and one as Carniolan/Carniolan Hybrids. I've had a good run these past 3 winters - no losses! But I baby the girls a bit. Keeps me occupied and happy to keep them happy. I've made 7 NUCS (including 4 this year) allowing them to raise their own queens and then I mark them. I'm tempted to move to exclusively Carniolan (but I haven't dabbled with Saskatraz or Russian yet). The Carniolians have been better at managing winter numbers and food, and just seem know when to explode at all the right times.

    You doing OK with the Africanized? I hear they can be quite HOT and I would worry about swarms in a residential area. Not that I don't worry about swarms here, but I take active steps to try to mitigate the risk.

    Mike and Alan - the wood is gorgeous! I'm also blown away by Claudia's quit!

  • Has anyone noticed that several of these posts have been flagged!

  • Yeah someone has a bee up their arse! Flaggers flag. Moving on....

  • edited July 3

    You probably know the history of the Africanized bees. They've been evolving, with a little help from people. In Africa, because of the predators (including people), only the most aggressive hives survived. In the Americas, the aggressive hives are exterminated, and the more docile hives are encouraged. I only keep the docile bees. If I get an aggressive hive, I kill it. I do not want those genes in the wild gene pool. I do not try to change the queen because I don't have access to docile Africanized queens and finding the queen in a big hive is tough. Also, I'd have to live with the aggressive workers for about 6 weeks until they all turned over.

    If they're going to be aggressive, they don't exhibit that trait until the hive is fairly large. All small hives are docile.

    The docile Africanized bees are as docile as most European hives. And, as you probably know, some European hives can be quite hot.

    I have worked with really hot Africanized hives without too much problem, but they can be dangerous to animals and people so the best thing to do is to kill them. My test for aggression is if they follow me out of the bee yard. With docile bees, the bees stop following you by the time you're about 10 yards from the hive. Aggressive bees will follow you for 100 yards, or more.

    I can walk unprotected through the bee yard and they don't bother me. They occasionally bother my yard guy because of the smell of the gasoline engine on the lawn mower, so I bought a bee jacket (with veil) for him to use when cutting the grass, if they bother him. Isn't all the time. Sometimes the girls are cranky.

    Africanized bees are well adapted to tropical conditions and that's why they expanded so quickly in South America. They do not hibernate well so they cannot survive a long cold winter. You'll probably never see any. They are gradually expanding northward so I expect they're evolving toward the cold.

    Since they can deal with varroa, I don't use any chemicals in the hive and don't have to monitor them very much.

    Honeybee swarms (including Africanized bees) are safe. Bees, whether European or Africanized, only attack to protect the hive and what they have in it (brood and honey). Swarms don't have anything to protect. I've picked up Africanized swarms with no protection and didn't get stung.

    If I get stung on my face, I tend to get a lot of swelling, so I almost always wear a veil. Anywhere else, a bee sting doesn't bother me much anymore.

    Take a look at this article about Africanized bees - It may provide some additional explanation.

    Are you a bee vet? I understand that beekeepers have to get a script from a vet for antibiotics now.

    [Added note: I've had bad luck with walk-away splits. I make sure there are eggs and yet the bees don't raise a new queen.]

  • Mike

    I'm a vet and a beekeeper, so by default I'm a bee vet. LOL. And yes, I've written a few VFDs for oxytetracyline for European Foul Brood so far.

    As for swarms and docility. I knew that swarms were docile, I just don't want to have to explain to a neighbor why a swarm moved into their eaves or attic (obviously it doesn't have to just be from one's own bees, but chances are higher that it would be). And yes, I had a HOT Carniolan hive. Never been stung more in one season. And they would come straight for your face/head. I was very happy to requeen that hive - they got pissy as soon as you got near the hive for any reason and would follow you for into the house if they could. Of course it was one of the best producing hives as well. As for stings - if I pop 40mg prednisone and 50mg benadryl within 15 minutes of a sting I have ZERO reactions. If I don't all bets are off.

    I didn't realize there were docile Africanized bees - but it makes sense if one is selecting for those traits. Thanks for the link. I'll take a read!

  • MikeHenderson - Thank you for your travel blog.  We are going to the Galapagos and Peru next May.  Egypt and the Nice is in October followed by Magic of Morocco on November 9, 2023.  Your blog has made me so excited about these upcoming trips.  Also, you are very gifted.  Alan, yours look like my Stickley which I absolutely love to this day as we have had it a long time.  Unfortunately, I am not gifted when it comes to crafts but do enjoy my two book clubs and my hiking club.

  • One of the best books I’ve ever read is Paris in the Present Tense and now reading The Huntress.

  • I have read the Huntress but would also recommend The Alice Network and The Rose Code.  Kate Quinn is a wonderful writer.  Currently, I am reading The Last Green Valley which is another great read. Now, I am going to order Paris in the Present Tense and thank you for the recommendation.

  • I also read Kate Quinn newest, The Diamond Eye.

  • Noreen. Thanks for the suggestion about The Last Green Valley. I had seen it listed but had not delved into the subject of the book. It looks fantastic. I love historic true novels and I see that I can purchase it on Kindle for 2.49. I will also check out your other recommendations and also recommendations from OurTravels 34. I have always loved to read, but ever since my husband purchased a Kindle for me, it is so much easier and less expensive to access so many great books.

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