Technology & Beekeeping: An Interview with Lawrence Fung

1. What is your role at The Hamlin School?

I’m the IT manager, I handle anything tech-related, computers, network, systems, hardware, trouble-shooting, the website and phone system. I help maintain the whole operation. I have a Master’s degree from USC in electrical engineering with a focus on computer networking, but I like the hands on stuff more than coding. With coding you have to sit in the same place for long periods of time. With my work now, I have more opportunities to run around, talk with different people and develop social skills.

2. Tell us about your connection to China?

I’m the only one in my family who came to the United States. I came to California in 1998, my parents and older sister still live in China. I’m from Heshan, Guangdong (near the southern coast, a few hours from Hong Kong). My father was a principal of a school. I try to get back to visit my family in China every year.

3. What is most similar/different about China/United States?

There are very few similarities, they both have McDonald’s, but that is about it. The biggest difference is air quality. The air here in San Francisco is pure, in China the air is very polluted because of all of the industry. There is also water pollution because of chemicals being dumped in rivers. My parents often go into the mountains to get spring water that isn’t contaminated. Culturally, Americans are more expressive than most Chinese people. I’ve slowly become more inclined to speak freely. The Chinese education system is focused entirely on academics, not on developing skills related to free speech and expression.

4. How did you get into beekeeping?

My dad is a beekeeper. My parents live on a school campus with land. My father started to keep bees on top of a hill on campus. I learned beekeeping from him. It is pretty easy to set up. Every March I pick up a bee package for $120, 3 pounds of Italian bees, 10,000 in total. I have 4 hives but it is normal for at least one to collapse from mite disease and other factors. I’m able to harvest about 200 pounds of honey a year. This year I’m selling the honey to neighbors and donating the proceeds to SF-Marin Food Bank, about $400. Over the years I’ve been stung 10 times. I don’t wear full protection, only a head covering. I expect to get stung, but I do use smoke which protects me most of the time.

5. What do you most enjoy about beekeeping?

I’m a nature person, I like hiking and farming. For me it’s not about the honey, it about seeing the bees and the flowers. Sometimes I can sit and look at the bees for an hour and become very calm.

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