When, how, and why did you make the decision to become a beekeeper?
In 1970, out of pure fascination after meeting another beekeeper and listening to his experiences, I got two hives which morphed into 25 in short order. I maxed out at 1000+ and now have about 500.
What’s the most surprising thing about beekeeping?
The connection that develops between the beekeeper, the bees, and the environment on a day-to-day basis – each affects the other and makes for an amazing dance. Also, I am constantly in awe of the amazing adaptability of this insect to such a variety of situations.
What are the biggest challenges or hurdles you face?
The biggest challenge is parasitic mites which infest the colonies. The mites gnaw on the bees and devour the baby brood, creating lesions which become sites for secondary infection further reducing the immune system of the hive, which is normally quite resilient.
How do you balance sustainability with profitability?
Sustainability is impossible without profitability, therefore profitability comes first. How can one turn the products of the hive into cash in the most efficient manner? In my opinion, farm-to-table is the best model currently available: produce it, pack it, and sell it direct. A great product at a reasonable price, is the motto. Having said that, without healthy bees there is nothing to sell. Therefore it is incumbent upon the beekeeper to do everything in his power to protect, feed, shelter, and sustain his hives – true animal husbandry.
Excluding your own, what’s another natural food product(s) or brand that you always have at home and why?
Butter. You could eat an old boot if it was sautéed in enough butter. Also cheese, and bacon. And for bee stings, the only true anti-bee venom product…beer.