In honor of Earth Day this month, we sat down with our own Sally Rich to learn more about life as a beekeeper on her organic, Eco-friendly farm here in Michigan! What most people don’t know about Sally is that when she isn’t at Rich & Associates, she is taking care of her 18-acre farm that is home to cows, chickens, bees, and her dog Molly! Sally prides herself on her organic, all natural, home-grown, Eco-friendly products and the positive effects they have on the environment!
How long have you been a beekeeper & what influenced you to start beekeeping?
Mike and I started beekeeping in 2005 when a friend of ours had us keep their hives on our property. We then went on to start keeping our own hives. Naturally, the raw honey was what enticed us to start beekeeping, but I also found that while beekeeping our flowers and small vegetable garden seemed to be more abundant.
What methods do you use to keep your honey & other products organic?
Producing organic products was a challenge we endured early on. We recently ended up moving out of our old home where we had kept our bees for the last 6 years. Due to the amount of pesticides and weed killer the surrounding neighbors were using we ended up losing all of our hives, so we bought a little 18-acre hobby farm in the urban city and started over. I don’t use any chemicals on the lawn or my flowers. I provide a clean water source so they don’t have to seek water from puddles on the road, etc. We also provide plenty of clover, fruit trees, wild flowers, and berry bushes in an attempt to provide them enough so they don’t have to travel too far to forage.
What methods do you use to keep your honey & other products Eco-friendly?
We plant bee friendly plants and trees. When they swarm we follow the swarm and collect it to create another hive. This allows us to build on our hives with out going to an outside/unknown source for new bees.
How many hives do you have and how much honey can one hive produce?
We currently have 4 hives and at this time each hive has 3 boxes.
It’s hard to say exactly how much honey one hive can produce because it varies. The hives we use are called Langstroth and we can add boxes as the colony grows. Each box can hold 10 frames. This past fall we harvested only one box off of 3 of the older hives to leave them honey to winter over. The 30 frames produced over 5 gallons of honey.
What’s the most fulfilling part of a beekeeper’s job?
The honey! And the challenge of keeping our property organic.
Have you ever been stung?
Only once when I was clearing around the hives with sheers and I accidentally knocked one of the boxes over. The bees thought there was an intruder. Aside from that one time, I cut the grass, clear around the hives, and replace their water dishes regularly without protective gear. I think they recognize that I’m not a threat.
What are your favorite bee-friendly flowers or plants?
My fruit trees and berry bushes. Not only do they provide for the bees but us as well.