Why do we keep bees? Well, that’s a complicated answer. Dirk grew up on a farm, surrounded by agriculture. It’s in his blood, and as any agricultural family will attest, once it’s in your blood it never leaves. However running a farm is a full time job and it’s often difficult to make a living. We attempted to have a hobby farm, but life with little kids and a full time job made the task overwhelming. Keeping bees helps us have the best of both worlds. We can stay connected to agriculture but we don’t have the burden of caring for animals or keeping the land.
We want our girls to help run the business and to learn the value of a good days work. Life isn’t meant to be spent in leisure. And when we tell a toddler “daddy is at work” what does that really mean? He sits at a desk and uses a computer all day. Can a child really comprehend what “work” is with that description? Can we? Beekeeping is hard, hot, sweaty work. When we take the girls to the bee yard and they see dad moving hives, checking bees, cleaning up the land, that’s physical work. When we let the girls help us line up bottles, label and melt beeswax, that’s work! And we all get a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when we see our work lined up on a shelf. It’s teaching our kids to love that feeling after work.
The other reason is to spend time with our family. This world pulls us in so many directions and the years we have at home with our children are so short. Keeping bees is something we can all do together and enjoy. Often you may see one of our girls with their dad at the farmer’s market. She’s learning how to talk to people, how to be friendly, how to count inventory and how to make change. But best of all she is making memories and spending time helping her dad. These things are priceless.
So for us, the bees are much more than honey. They are that thing in this world that we can work at with passion, a means to a happy living.
“It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.”
2017 has been a year of changes for us! Dirk’s job relocated our family across the state of Oklahoma to Claremore. We sold our six acre farm and moved east. While this move was difficult, it has worked out well for us. We are in the process of building a barn, which will house a honey kitchen! This is super exciting and provides us with many opportunities
We are often asked: Can we find your honey in local stores? And the answer is no. Why? Because the state of Oklahoma requires honey sold in stores to be bottled in a facility that has been inspected by the health department. A small beekeeper without a state-inspected facility can only sell honey at a farmer’s market, at their homes or person-to-person. Each jar has to have this disclaimer: “Bottled in a facility that is not inspected by the Oklahoma Dept of Health.” While this works great, we want people to be able to find our honey when they need it. Plus we just feel safer making our products and bottling our honey in a facility dedicated to just that purpose.
We’ve designed our new kitchen to meet state requirements and we’ve had the building process inspected. Once completed, we will be able to sell our honey in local stores! But also, we want to make our kitchen and equipment available for use by other small beekeepers.
The building is up, the plumbing is in and the concrete comes soon. The process will likely move at a slower pace now, since we want to use profits from honey sales to pay for it. We aren’t proponents of debt! But we are very excited for this new development.
Well Oklahoma had another early spring this year and the bees are responding well. We had our first round of queens come in last week and the second round is do in this week.
We have received some questions about what we do with new queens and the first answer is SPLITS!!! Splitting is when we take some frames containing brood (bee larva) and nurse bees (young bees) and place them in a new hive body with a caged queen. The young bees are very willing to trade allegiance to the new queen and will readily accept her once she is released into the hive and begins laying eggs. Then with a little luck in 4-6 weeks the “split” we be able to produce some honey.
Other than using new queens to make splits we also use them to replace queens that are past their prime. Queens have a very demanding job, they alone control the success of a hive, both through their egg laying ability and the amount of pheromone they produce. After 1-2 years one of those two key traits will begin to diminish and the health of the hive will quickly follow. In order for us to be able to harvest honey we need our queens to perform at their best.
So, here’s to early springs and new queens!!!
A quick look back at 2016 for 6 Acre Bees. We started off the year rebuilding, again. Do to the learning curve of mite management we only had 4 hives. Thanks to an early spring we were able to make splits and buy a few hives to make some honey. Over all a good year for us honey production wise, we harvested around 200 pounds of liquid honey and were successful on our first attempt of making comb honey, which we packaged in pint jars with liquid honey and was a huge hit.
As the main honey season wound down we turned our focus to raising new queens to make increases for 2017. We had good success and were able to raise around 10 queens of which 7 have survived so far into 2017. Our total hive count at the moment is 14. We have an additional 12 queens purchased that should be arriving in April to allow for more splits of our current hives.
In 2017 we hope to expand our operation. We will maintain two apiaries in the Edmond & Guthrie areas and will establish a new apiary or two in the Claremore area. Last year was the first year we were able to offer customers the option to select which apiary their honey came from and we are excited to add a new location to the mix this year.
We will continue to have lip balms, lotion bars, and beeswax listed on our Etsy store, so if you haven’t checked it out yet please be sure to go look at and try one of the products made by us using beeswax from our hives.
Thank you for your support in 2016 and we look forward to hearing from you in 2017.
We’ve moved some of our products to our etsy store. Check out some of our newest gift ideas for this coming holiday season!
Six Acre Bees on etsy.
We have pulled frames and we’re beginning the process of extracting and bottling honey. Honey will be for sale in a week or two!
Spring brings bee swarms! A swarm of bees may seem like a scary sight, but bees will be at their most docile state when swarming. They are too preoccupied with finding a new home. If you see a bee swarm or have a swarm on your property, call us! We will come get those bees out of your way, free of charge. (In Logan County or in the OKC metro area.)
We also specialize in hive removal, so if those bees should take up residence in YOUR residence, give us a call!