When you walk into the front building of the West orchard there is a frame of bees on display. If you look a little closer, however, you realize these bees are alive— moving about their comb freely. If you travel to the back of the building, you will find bees flying and the smell of sweet honey in the air.
“We are hoping to have about 700 pounds of honey this time,” said Dan West. “It’s not too bad for a couple of old guys.”
He laughs looking around the room.
Dan started beekeeping about three years ago along with his friend Bob Brammer.
“Bob has been my fearless mentor. He is a super mentor,” said Dan. “He has been doing this for about 35 years, but was down to four hives which isn’t a lot for a beekeeper, and I got him spurred back into it.”
But Bob isn’t the only individual Dan got into beekeeping. He has also gotten his son Wade West, daughter-in-law Katie West, and grandson Landon West involved as well.
“It’s kind of one of those things that is a family affair,” said Dan.
All together they have 70 hives throughout the county. Some are starter hives that do not produce honey yet, while some hives are more established. And twice a year they extract honey.
“A bee only produces one teaspoon of honey in its life, so it takes a lot of bees to produce that amount of honey,” said Katie. “But we are fortunate enough this year because we actually have honey.”
According to Dan, the prolonged winter this year killed several bees.
“But we have some strong hives and I can see we are on track to get 1,100 or 1,200 pounds of honey altogether,” said Dan.
After Dan finishes extracting the honey everyone gets a taste.
“It doesn’t get any fresher than that,” said Dan.