Honey money for Your Next Job
ORTANNA, Pa. —
Let's "bee" honest, if you want to become a beekeeper, "Honey you better not be allergic to bees." Too bad Joel D. Smith is.
However, he still figured out a way to cover the story and learned how you can skip the sting the next time you are around just one bee, instead of thousands of them.
Jon Deardorff is a part-time beekeeper for Shady Rest Apiaries in Orrtanna, Adams County.
"It's fun watching them in the hive, watching them grow and collect honey. They are very remarkable little insects," Deardorff said.
How to Bee-have around the Bee-hive:
Ever wonder why beekeepers wear those white suits? Sure, they cover up the body to prevent stings, but the color is even more important.
Bees natural enemies are skunks and black bears, so wearing the opposite of that color, the white suits, gives bees no reason to attack.
Jon says if you were slow and easy, you don't have to get stung, much. He admits he must use his bare hands to reach into the hives and check on the slats inside. His wife Kay puts it best when she says, "When you are a beekeeper, it's not if you get stung, it's when you get stung. "
All hail the Queen bee
Beekeepers must check on the hive about once a week. It's a hobby for some, but he says a growing profession for others.
The key is to keep the Queen bee happy. When Joel D. was there, they saw the Queen.
"Seeing the queen was especially exciting as we don't always actually see her and don't necessarily look for her; but seeing the eggs, larvae, and brood is evidence of her presence," Kay said. "She is the heart of the hive. Without her there is no hive."
Opening the hive and looking at the individual frames of bees allows the beekeeper to inspect the health of the hive.
According to Kay, while most backyard beekeepers are not in beekeeping to make a profit on the honey sales or sales of any "bee" products, money can be made in doing so.
The state average of honey from a hive is 45 pounds per hive. The Deardorff's honey is sold at $7 per pound, and would provide them with $315 per hive at that average. Of course, there are expenses incurred, like travel costs, materials bought, etc., that would subtract from that income.
They say some years are good, while other aren't as much.
A stinging endorsement
In the end, Joel D. survived with no stings, and the sweet taste of victory, with raw honey.
But he's still not going around bees anytime soon, even when wearing all white.