Once again, the brave editor of 573 Magazine risked life and limb to bring you a fresh story. Okay, Maybe not fraught with danger for real, but one certainly filled with the possibility of a good old fashioned bee sting—yikes!
If you've never been around a beehive when someone is digging around inside, it would be hard to grasp the terror that rolls through your head. Don't get me wrong, I love bees, but the sound of angry bees buzzing around and looking for a way under the beekeeper's veil is pretty unnerving for sure. Luckily, I had a pro to help me with this story. Meet Stephanie Brewer—one brave lover of honey.
573: Tell us about your family.
Randy and I have a blended family. We have been married for almost four years. Between the two of us, we have five children (three girls, two boys) that all live outside the home. We also have four grandchildren. We are a very busy couple. We own and operate Olympic Steakhouse in Fredericktown, though I run Bella Luna Landscape Maintenance by myself. I also have an Etsy shop named BellaLunaBees. Downtime is almost unheard of, but when we can find it, we love to camp.
573: How did you get into beekeeping?
As a horticulturist, I was focused on finding more ecologically responsible landscaping practices, and beekeeping naturally evolved from that. I noticed more out of necessity that pollination was fading and that we need to be mindful of our pollinators—all of them. Beekeeping was just one of those facets. I remember as a young girl watching a Time Life or Nova special on honeybees, and it always fascinated me. I never knew anyone who kept bees, so I was a bit intimidated to delve into it. A friend and colleague told me about a beekeeping workshop held in Park Hills every January hosted by Parkland Beekeepers Association. I took the course, attended the meetings, got a mentor, and have been hooked ever since.
573: Is it hard to start beekeeping?
Hmmmm.... hard? No. It can be a little overwhelming, though. There is soooooo much to learn—so much to know and so much to contemplate. There is verbiage that you might not be familiar with except in beekeeping. I would advise a few things: 1) If at all possible, join a beekeeping group. 2) Get a knowledgeable mentor. 3) Read, read, read! Devour as much information as you can through books and reputable sources.
After adequate preparation and about of year of learning, get two colonies. Having two colonies allows you to compare between the two. You may not realize a potential issue if you are only observing one colony.
573: Tell us about your honey!
My husband and I made the decision a few years ago to do away with processed sugars. For sweetener, we almost strictly use honey. Three years ago, our honey harvest was abundant. I decided to honey swap with other beekeepers around the world. It is enjoyable to contact people in beekeeping forums and offer to send a pound of honey in exchange for a pound of theirs. Different kinds of honey from distinct regions and varied seasons have unique flavors.
That same year I entered the Black Jar International Honey Tasting Contest. I won the Central U.S. division and received a blue ribbon, a letter of acknowledgment, and a monetary prize. I used the prize money to open my Etsy shop.