Getting through winter and watching the bees from the beginning of the process. The sense of pride you get working with the survivors — helping them build and grow into “North Dakota Skyscrapers.”
Returning to North Dakota farm life was an opportunity Bryan Dohn couldn’t pass up. What started as a summer job during his college years in the early 1980s became an opportunity to grow up and realize beekeeping as a career. Bryan came to enjoy the thought of not punching a time clock or working in an office. Instead, he considered himself a “farmer with a veil.” His boss didn’t have kids and, in 2000, asked Dohn to purchase his operation. Today, Danzig Honey Farms is a third-generation business, proudly run by Bryan’s son, Eric.
Almonds and apples
Producing a good crop and knowing the bees are healthy. Understanding that the care you give the bees allows them to focus on what they do best — providing for and growing their colony.
The Hamilton’s third-generation beekeeping tradition dates back to before the depression. Tom Hamilton remembers becoming fascinated with bees when he learned the trade from his dad in their garage. Tom started his profession officially in the late 70s when he worked bees to pollinate local onions and carrots. About five years later, he purchased an operation from a veteran, 50-year beekeeper and began teaching the trade to his young sons, Scott and Eric. After decades of honest, hard work, Tom passed along his operations to his sons, who work the business and continue the craft of beekeeping and pollination services. They’ll in turn pass down their knowledge, work ethic and operation to their sons someday.
The enjoyment of going to work and being with family (which includes employees!). Being able to sustain an operation, give people jobs and spend time with loved ones.
What started as a fascination for bees turned into Jim Patty’s purchase of his first two hives in 1977. In just a few years, the operation grew to more than 30 hives, then before long, 2,600 hives. Jim’s three children, David, Donna and Donnie, fondly remember extracting honey in the kitchen and selling it at the local markets. His son, David, worked alongside his dad from the age of five and became essential to the business as time passed. Today, Jim is retired, and the three kids take care of the bees, share their father’s “don’t give up” attitude and run things the same way as their father.
Los Banos, CA
Being outside with the bees, especially during springtime in California — things don’t get better than that.
During his time at Cal Poly in the early 70s, Gene learned the ins and outs of beekeeping working for a local beekeeper. When he earned his agricultural business management degree, Gene decided to become a partner in his employer’s beekeeping operation. An environmentalist at heart, his life’s work became taking care of and providing for the bees, moving them to healthy forage areas and making honey. He also helped pollinate local agricultural crops, including almonds, apples, cherries, melons, raspberries and blackberries. Four decades later, Gene continues to enjoy taking care of the bees and creating a nice honey crop. He’s been happily working alongside his son, Michael, for the past 10 years — who is taking on more of Gene’s bees every year.
Being outside with my head in a hive and working in some of the most beautiful land in the country.
With a new pair of coveralls, boots and a hive tool, Paul started very young, working with his dad, Keith, and his brothers and sisters in the bee yard. He began by scraping wax off lids into a bucket, then moved up to supering hives a few years later, and as a teenager he drove the crew to pull honey. After graduating high school, Paul and his brother, Joe, purchased part of his dad’s business. Today, the brothers continue to operate their own businesses, but work together during pollination season and raise queens together in Mississippi. Paul’s oldest son, Derek, has been working with Paul for the past couple of years and will someday run this third-generation beekeeping operation.
Watermelon and squash
Enjoying the freedom to be outside in nature — the tranquility of listening to the bees and watching them work. The excitement of knowing you’re going to learn something new and that tomorrow will be different than today.
Born and raised in northern Florida, Al was instilled with a deep work ethic at a young age. In high school, Al started working with a local 45-year veteran beekeeper, Mr. Warren, who taught him everything he knows. Mr. Warren encouraged Al to make beekeeping his profession — and Al listened. Currently, he manages 5,000 hives, and is also helping Barkman Apiaries expand their beekeeping division on the East Coast.
Fresh strawberries (with honey, of course)
Sticking your nose in a hive and watching the bees as the young colonies grow — and admiring their natural instinct to adapt and carry on through life’s challenges.
Brent Woodworth grew up in the beekeeper life, working alongside his father. As a young man, Brent learned to respect bees and the importance of carefully looking after them. When Brent graduated high school in 1972, he married Bonnie, and the two began life together as full-time beekeepers. In 1977, they purchased 2,000 colonies and started their own operation. Today, Brent and Bonnie continue raising and caring for bees, and are happy to employ 15 people.