|A fully loaded 20' trailer.|
We arrived at 900 the next morning. Jerry has been keeping his hives since October at an apiary called Bee Healthy Honey Farms. The proprietor, Steve Byers, is working with Jerry on this hive set, and Jerry is mentoring Steve on his pollination business and colony expansion.
The trip was a substantial eye-opener for me. My experience has been generally focused on urban beekeeping, with small and permanent apiaries around the DC area. The folks in the local bee clubs who influence the beekeepers I mentor are very focused on sustainable beekeeping, resistant genetics, and treatment-free colonies. To be fair, I have promoted these same ideas, but with perhaps a little less hubris than some.
When you are tending one to three or four hives, it is easy to pay lots of attention to them, treat with homeopathic remedies, and check for swarm cells. Smaller apiaries may also have the finances and resources to experiment with different bee stock and breed locally-resistant bees for distribution among hive members. And if one loses a hive or two, the cost of a package or nuc (or two) is just the cost of being a hobbyist beekeeper.
|Jerry the Beekeeper|
|Beekeeping down-time in South Florida|
Summary: Let's not demonize this important resource to our farmers and our own hobby. How commercial beekeepers manage their bees may not gel with everyone's view of long term sustainability, but you would be hard-pressed to find a group of folks more passionate about the health and well-being of the honeybee.
Here is the video of our trip south: