Unique Cures

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My earliest recollection of bees was when my father brought home a swarm of honey bees. He had been working in his truck and had seen the swarm of bees hanging off a tree branch on the side of the road. He put a sack over the bees, sawed off the branch and bought them back home.

man with bees From then we always had a hive at home and fresh honey. When my father became too old to look after the bees, I took over the hives and got help from my brother when it was needed. Our method of separating the honey from the wax was not easy—we used to put the wax in a muslin bag and squeeze it through it as best we could. Although it wasn't very efficient, it was OK for home use.

When my father passed away, my brother and I took over the bees, eventually ending up with three hives. I became more and more interested in bees, especially after I visited a museum in Christchurch, New Zealand, where they showed a working hive of bees. This fascinated me as I came to realize how truly extraordinary bees really are.

Years later, in 2008 I sold my transport business and took a well earned rest. I was so exhausted that for about six months I was unable and uninterested in doing anything. Fortunately, I became bored, and decided to spend some time with my neglected bees that I used to love so much. I purchased new boxes and honey frames and also renewed the queen bees.

Soon after, I visited a local tourist attraction when I noticed that they were selling honey from the East coast, which is about a five hour drive from where I live. I asked the manager why he was not selling local honey, and he told me that his supplier had let him down and he had run out of stock. I offered to supply my (local) honey, which he gratefully agreed to. So I bought some plastic jars, extracted some honey from one of my hives and delivered it to him just in time for the beginning of the tourist season. He was very grateful, and I had sold my first lot of honey without even really trying.

This made me realize that I could produce honey and sell it fairly easily and efficiently. I bought more hive equipment and started splitting my hives to make more. From one hive I could split it into two, and when they became strong enough I could split them again. This enabled me to build around thirty hives in a very short time span. I also placed them in positions where I knew I could collect only Manuka honey. Manuka is probably the hardest type of honey to remove from the frames as it is so thick. After a few failed attempts at various extraction methods, someone suggested that I contract the separating process to a local beekeeper, Syd. As I went to visit him, he happened to be right in the middle of taking honey from the frames and separating it. Perfect timing! I helped him out and was lucky enough to eat lots of beautiful, fresh honey, straight from the frames. It was irresistible. Over coffee, we discussed ways of working together.

I decided to try my luck at finding outlets to sell it. I called in at places and told the management; “Once you try my honey, you will never want to eat any other honey again. It's like it has been taken off the hive that very morning”. After trying my samples, they obviously believed me as they agreed to sell it in their shops. I was so certain that my honey would be loved that I even told them they could have it on account, and if it did not sell then I would pick it up on my next trip through. As expected, all my honey sold out.

I try to keep my honey as close as I can to its natural state—straight from the hive. I now mainly sell to the local market and I'm always busy with repeat sales. And that folks, is more or less how I got involved with bees.

Bruce Moffat — Bruce Moffat

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