Vermont raw, treatment-free honey now available. Details below. (Keep reading.)
Also available in canning jars:
half pint (11 oz.)($15),
pint (22 oz.)
quart (44 oz.)
1/2 gallon (88 oz.)
Muth jars are sealed with wax and make lovely, fancy gifts.
Muth jar pricing:
4 ounce - $10.00 8 ounce - $16.00 16 ounce - $27.00
The story of our beekeeping
Our family purchased our first hive and bees in 1999. Despite our care, they didn't make it through the first winter, and it was 12 years before we got bees again in 2011. One year (maybe 2006 or 2007), I had tried to get bees again. I had contacted a local beekeeper who had bees for sale and had paid for a nuc, but the beekeeper decided to move to California and cancelled all his orders. He refunded our money, but it was quite a few years before we found a way to get bees, not being online or aware of the existence of beekeeping clubs.
In 2011, we purchased two nucs from Singing Cedars Apiaries, which both swarmed early in the season. Although both swarms were visible, they were too high to reach, and we were unable to catch them. Both those colonies made it through their first winter. Since we quit eating white, processed sugar in 1996 and switched over to honey, with maple syrup for special treats, our goal in having bees was to avoid having to buy honey.
I knew that I didn't want to use chemicals in my hives, so during the winter of 2011-2012, I did some searching around to learn what I could about natural beekeeping. In the process, I discovered Kirkobeeo, from Los Angeles. I'm pretty sure he was the one who recommended The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping, which I acquired and read. Through that book, I found out about a treatment-free beekeeping conference coming up in the summer of 2012, which I was able to attend. What a relief to find there were other people who had the same desire that I did to be chemical-free.
In the spring of 2012, we purchased two more nucs to add to the existing two hives. These were from Fred Merriam, a natural beekeeper in Vermont.
In 2013, I again attended the treatment-free conference in Leominster, but that winter, due to an untimely split, I came through the winter with no bees left. Due to an impending move, and a family emergency, I did not get any replacement bees in 2014.
In the spring of 2015, I was unsure whether or not to get bees again, when some bees appeared in one of my hives. Later that summer, a friend gave me another colony (now, that's a good friend!) and I was again a beekeeper. Although small, both those colonies made it through the mild winter of 2015-2016.
In 2016, I built two top-bar hives and purchased two packages of bees. Neither one survived. One had a drone-laying queen, and despite my giving them eggs and brood from other hives, they were not able to raise a queen. I traded all my 10-frame equipment for a colony in a 10-frame deep, which I attempted to move into one of my new top-bar hives. They decided not to move up, so they will spend the winter of 2016-2017 in their 10-frame deep, and I'll try to convince them to move into one of the fancy top-bar hives again in the spring of 2017.
Fall of 2016: I found myself in a predicament. My four hives were very light, and it was obvious to me my bees could not get through the winter without some help. I contacted a local treatment-free beekeeper to see about getting them some treatment-free honey, but my financial situation was not conducive to spending that amount of money on honey for bees. As I saw it, I had two choices:
1.) I could leave my four hives alone and certainly lose them all, and have to replace them with nucs or packages purchased from someone who had fed sugar syrup to their bees to get them through, or
2.) I could go ahead and feed my bees sugar syrup as an emergency measure in an effort to help them get them through the winter.
It was an agonizing decision to buy white sugar (it is not recommended to feed bees organic, dark, cane juice crystals) - something I would not eat myself - but I decided it was the only logical thing to do. The bees did put away quite a bit before winter set in.
Spring of 2017: Despite my feeding intervention, none of the hives survived the winter. I arranged to get a nuc from Fred Merriam, in Tunbridge, Vermont. I may also be able to get another one. I don't like to have just one hive.
Honey is harvested from our hives only when the bees have more than they need to get through the winter. Since my goal is to not feed sugar to my bees (as is the common practice in mainstream beekeeping), the priority is that the bees have all they need. If there is extra, it is harvested for human consumption.
My bee-keeping philosophy is treatment-free. I do not use chemicals anywhere on my land, nor do I use chemicals in my beehives.
I believe wholeheartedly in treatment-free beekeeping and honey production, but since I don't have enough honey to sell, I have decided to bottle and offer for sale treatment-free honey from another treatment-free beekeeper.
This treatment-free honey is made by bees belonging to Kirk Webster in the Champlain Valley of Vermont. We have been eating this honey for the past year. It is absolutely delicious. The honey is smooth and creamy, not liquid, and is easy to transfer from the honey pot to a cup of tea without dripping. It is naturally crystallized honey. Kirk sells his honey only in bulk, so I have decided to help make his honey readily accessible to more people.
In 2016, I discovered that another beekeeper a beekeeping friend of mine talks about frequently is also a treatment-free beekeeper. Troy Hall keeps his bees in the upper valley region of the Connecticut River in New Hampshire. His honey is available in eight-ounce and pound jars in a variety of local shops. I recently acquired my first honey from Troy. The honey I got was made from Japanese knotweed and is darker and liquid. I am enjoying it. Please look and ask for Hall Apiaries honey in your local Vermont or New Hampshire co-op.
Both these local beekeepers are committed to maintaining the health of their bees without medications, chemicals, antibiotics, or other unnatural additives. The honey is raw, unheated, and unfiltered, leaving traces of pollen, wax, and propolis. This philosophy of "treatment-free" really can work, despite the widespread belief to the contrary.
There are numerous other treatment-free beekeepers around the country. The following is a list of the treatment-free beekeepers I am aware of. (More to be added to as I discover them.)
Kirk Webster in Vermont
Troy Hall in New Hampshire
Dean and Laurie in Massachusetts
Michael Bush in Nebraska
Bob Brachmann in New York
Les Crowder in Texas
Dee Lusby in Arizona
I have started bottling and selling Kirk's honey in muth jars for fancy gift-giving, as well as in larger quantities for those who would like to use treatment-free honey on a daily basis, but aren't prepared to purchase a 3-gallon bucket or 55-gallon drum of honey.
If you would like honey, please contact me. Although I don't sell online (with a click and a sale), I could make arrangements to provide honey for you. (Go to Contact tab.)
Please contact me if you are interested in bulk or wholesale purchases.
Unfortunately, since I am not the owner of the bees that produce the honey I am bottling, local farmer's markets will not allow me to sell the honey at their markets. If you have an outlet where you would like to see the honey available, please give the store owner or manager my contact information. We may be able to get the word out that there is a higher-quality honey available.
As with other terms, the "treatment-free" designation will probably be picked up by beekeepers that do not hold the same standards of bee management. It will be up to individuals to ask questions of their honey suppliers and know what they expect when they are buying honey.
Kirk's treatment-free honey is available at the following locations:
D & K's Grocery in Jamaica, Vermont
Depot Street Gallery in Ludlow, Vermont
Inn Victoria in Chester, Vermont
Singleton's in Proctorsville, Vermont
Smokeshire on Route near Proctorsville, Vermont
Stowe Street Emporium in Waterbury, Vermont
If you would like to see this honey offered at a location near you, please let the store know, and then let me know so we can connect.
Here are our hives during the mild winter of 2015-2016. The one on the left is 8-frame mediums. The bees that live there were given to me by a friend in the summer of 2015. The center hive is 10-frame deeps. The bees that live there are a swarm that chose the purple box some time before the end of June, 2015, when I discovered them. The 8-frame boxes on the right are empty. The hay visible sticking out of the center hive is for winter insulation. It absorbs moisture (condensation) so it doesn't drip back down on the bees, which could be life-threatening to them.
Spring, 2016. Scratches from the recent bear visit can be seen on the left hive, top box. The ratchet straps help keep the hive together in case of wild life disturbances. Thankfully, the hives weren't totally destroyed. We suspect the culprits were two young cubs, or there probably wouldn't have been much left of the hives but wood splinters.
Our bee yard with electric fence up after the bear visit. May, 2016
Spring 2016. The hive on the left has four 8-frame medium boxes. The hive on the right has now been switched from the two 10-frame deeps (above, winter photos) into two 8-frame deeps with a nadired 8-frame medium. As the bees move down, the deeps will be rotated off. I may trim them to mediums or keep them to use to accept frames from nucs which can again be rotated into 8-frame mediums.
Top bar hives made in the spring of 2016 according to Les Crowder's design. Red cedar shingled roofs lift off to access the hive.