Seven-year-old Nathan Huntzinger with his younger brothers Sam (6) and Ben (4) began keeping bees as a homeschool learning project. They got some hives and started raising the tiny insects.
“I thought it would be a hands-on approach to Biology, Ecology and maybe some other sciences,” their father, Craig, said. “The experience taught them much more than science.”
They set up some hives and started to harvest their honey under the Bees Brothers brand in North Logan.
“We found people that would let us put the hives on their land,” Craig said.
The youngsters took their Bees Brothers Honey to the Cache Valley Farmers Market to peddle it. When they started, they found out they had to get a Cottage Food License then a Commercial Kitchen License.
“People would come up because we were kids and look how much money the honey was and some bought it, but a lot didn’t,” Nathan said. “We found later if we made caramels out of the honey and sold them for $1, we sold more. So we got into the caramel business.”
Now 20, and recently returned from a mission for his church, Nathan is back at the sweet business of honey. He was filling jars of the golden honey to be shipped to a hotel in Park City Wednesday afternoon.
“I thought if they could make a little money it would pay for scout camp,” Craig said. “It not only did that, but it also paid for Nathan’s mission.”
Nathan said besides the biology and other sciences, he learned a lot about business, marketing and computers.
“Most of our customers come from the internet,” Nathan said. “We have branched off into making honey roasted almonds and several different flavors of caramels.”
They both said raising bees to make honey is not as easy as it looks.
“I refer to it as an out-of-control science experiment,” Craig said.
Doug Perry, a public information officer for the Utah Department of Agriculture, said in 2018 there were 1,800 beekeepers in Utah. In ten years it has probably grown five fold.
USU Extension Associate Professor of Horticulture, JayDee Gunnell, said beekeeping is growing in popularity, especially here in Cache Valley where bees can pollinate wildflowers, clovers and other plants depending on their location.
Gunnell said there is help available for people wanting to get started into beekeeping. There are five things to consider in beginning beekeeping.
- Attend a beginning beekeeping class to make sure you know what you are getting into. There is one April 11 at Freckle Farm, sponsored by USU.
- Find a mentor who has kept bees and can troubleshoot any bee problems that you encounter. Join a local beekeepers association. One in the valley is the Cache Valley Bee Association. They can be reached at email@example.com
- A home for bees generally consisting of two deep brood boxes with frames, a bottom board, a top cover along with a shallow box with frame for when they start producing honey.
- Protective wear for getting into the hive like a bee jacket or veil, leather gloves, a hive tool and a smoker.
- Patience. Beekeeping is a fun hobby that has sweet rewards. But there are a lot of lessons to be learned and a lot of mistakes to be made. So be ready to learn patience.
There is a Beginning Beekeeping Class being taught by Cache Valley Bee Supply at Bridgerland Technical College located at 1301 N. 600 W. on March 28 from 6 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
The class will cover bee anatomy, what’s in the hive, installing packages and nucs, tools and equipment, pests, harvesting and any other questions participants may have.
Lorraine Scholes, from Cache Valley Bee Supply, said they have all the supplies and equipment needed to get started.
“We do our best to carry a good selection of supplies and try to ship your orders in a timely manner,” she said. “If you have any questions, please feel free to call and talk with us.”
Cache Valley Bee Supply is located at 7011 S. 650 W. Hyrum. Their phone number is (435) 764-2111 or they can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Utah State University will begin their Thriving Hive Series March 21, 6 to 8:30 p.m. at IFA (2250 N. Main) on Thursdays, beginning March 21 and continuing monthly until September. The cost is $100 for the whole series or $20 per session.
Participants that complete the series will receive a USU Extension Advanced Beekeeping certificate. Each workshop will be held at IFA (2250 North Main, North Logan).