Local businesses normally start small and grow from there. That's certainly true of a very small honey operation in Sun Valley that, after four years, produces enough to supply two stores that carry its product. Bee Buddies honey has an unusually wild taste and a different-from-store consistency.
What got you into this business?
Eight years ago or so, we were making honey wine—mead—and we made it for about three years, and I was buying honey from other beekeepers, and I thought, “Why don’t I try this myself?” And that’s what got us into doing the bees. I read every book in the library and bought the one that I thought was the best, that I could understand, and read it, and started keeping bees with two hives. Four years ago? Four years ago.
I noticed that your honey has a different taste from what I’m accustomed to with honey. What affects the taste of honey?
Mostly what you leave in, not what you take out. As they go in the store, they take everything good out of it. And we leave everything good in it. … They ultra-filter it nowadays and it takes out the pollen, just all the good stuff that’s in there, and then they add corn syrup or molasses to help it flow nice. You notice that ours doesn’t flow nice. … It’s thick. … If you turn one [of theirs] over in the stores, you see the bubbles go right to the top, so it’s thin.
How many stores are carrying you?
Two, Reno Magic and Hippies [in Sparks]. … We’re just a small business doing this, and we don’t want to try to supply any more than we can keep supplied for a year. So we’re going real slow about it until we know we have enough supplies to take care of them. I don’t want Hippies to run out in the middle of winter. … So we haven’t taken on more yet. We hope to, in the future.
You have 19 hives now. What now?
We plan to go up a little bit. We have some out in Spanish Springs, Cold Springs, Panther Valley and Sun Valley. We have hives in different places.
Get many stings?
Yes. I don’t like to wear the suit much because you can’t feel the bees. You’re not a part of them. … The most in one day was 32 stings. … You get more stings when you’re harvesting because then you’re taking something from them. They don’t sting you a whole lot if you’re not taking something from them.
You actually number by hand each jar for the hive it came from. Mine came from number 6. Why do you do that?
So we can tell the difference in the flavor. Like, what’s in our yard is going to be different that what’s in the neighbor’s yard or Spanish Springs, so they’ll taste different.
You know where the bees from certain hives go?
Yes. They head east. … They’ll head toward the sun first thing in the morning, and they head that way and collect within three to five miles. … We’re writing down what’s flowering at that time, and we look at what day we spun it, and we can tell what’s in it by what’s growing, what’s blooming now.