Farm Focus: The Buzz with Bees Pt 2
Last week I had the pleasure of catching up with Kelly Knapp of Miss Bee Haven Honey who manages over forty beehives at Frog Hollow Farm. This is a busy time of year for her! She has lots to do, from preparing new boxes, splitting hives that grew too big for their homes over winter and catching wild swarms to place them in new hives. Luckily, she took a few moments out of her busy day to chat with me about her work.
Kelly got her start with bees about 14 years ago when she was starting her family and looking for a new career she was passionate about. She got her first taste of beekeeping that spring while going out with a friend to catch a wild swarm. Each spring large swarms will split up, one group staying in the hive with a new queen and the other heading out to find a new home. After that first swarm she was hooked! A year later, after learning to manage bees, she had established 18 hives around the East Bay. Since then she has continued to learn the art of beekeeping, establishing new hives and selling her honey at the Brentwood Farmers Market.
About two years ago Kelly decided it was time to take things to the next level. Around that time she connected with Frog Hollow Farm where she now has about 45 hives. She's now working full time managing over 130 hives and, while she has her hands full, she loves the tangible satisfaction of the hard work of taking care of her girls. She treats her bees well, letting them do their work in wonderful spots around the East Bay. She loves being able to track each hive's personality (some of them are friendlier than others) and how their honey reflects their surroundings.
Kelly's honey is unique because of how she treats it once it has been harvested. Each collection of beehives, or apiary, develops its own unique character depending on the available food throughout the year. Most honey you get at a grocery store has been blended from many apiaries and pasteurized for shelf stability. To maintain the unique characteristics of her apiaries she does not mix or heat her honey before bottling and you can really taste the difference. Cherry Blossoms, which bloom in early spring, have a wonderfully mild fruitiness whereas Star Thistle has bold, almost spicy flavors. Even the color changes, depending on the kind of nectar the bees are gathering!
Be sure to try a bottle of Miss Bee Haven Honey from our add-on store. We still have a few bottles of her award winning Star Thistle Honey in stock along with Cherry Blossom and Fall Harvest. She is bringing about 40 more hives to the farm this spring so we will be sure to keep you in the loop!