Posted by: Kate | February 15, 2010

sigh…

This article give a good perspective on the difficulties of the beekeeping profession. It profiles some massive beekeeping operations (thousands of hives) and outlines their struggles to survive. When I read the article, I couldn’t help but marvel at Keith’s ability to keep us and our little 200 hive operation afloat.

Keith just took our bees over to the almonds last week. He doesn’t have the luxury of a forklift to aid him in loading his hives onto the trucks. He lifts each hive by hand. He doesn’t even have employees to help! That needs to change if we are to continue growing. When he arrived at the orchards later in the  week to check on the bees and feed them, he realized that the areas where the hives had been placed were too muddy to drive the truck into. He ended up having to walk miles and miles through the mud with heavy boxes of sugar syrup jars to each hive.

As small producers, we have an advantage because we are doing everything ourselves with care and attentiveness. This means that our colonies are well cared for and are more likely to survive the winter months. We also live close to the almonds, which minimizes travel stress on the bees. We can move the hives in the dark and have them placed by the time the hive is active and awake in the daylight.

As we work on growing our business responsibly, the issues plaguing beekeepers weigh heavy on our minds. This is one reason we began to raise hogs: to have something to fall back on in case all of our bees die one year. Such is the nature of farming. It is a scary undertaking when so much of our fate is wrapped up in weather conditions and the health of livestock. We wouldn’t have it any other way, however. It feels so good to sell nourishing products that we are proud of. We are very blessed.

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Responses

  1. I wonder if it is possible to partner w/ community college or a nonprofit to have unpaid internships – there is still the issue of orienting & supervising, but at least not adding a payroll & responsibility for another person’s livelihood to the burdens you already carry.


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