Super-premium honey products are our focus with regards to beekeeping. We let others make candles, candy, and flavoured honeys. The mass-market adulteration of honey products on grocery store shelves and the unconscionable amount of toxic chemicals applied to hives by most backyard beekeepers is a wake-up call. There comes a time when the negative effect of the standards of commercial pollination and honey production demand a reverse course to a more holistic and natural approach to keeping bees.
By following treatment-free (TF) practices, we eliminate the use of chemicals or pesticides in the hive so that it doesn’t end up in our honey crop. We don’t deny the presence of common honey bee pests like mites and beetles, though we don’t sacrifice contaminating the colony with chemical treatments that may or may not have a long-term effect at mitigating those disease factors.
The basic philosophy behind a TF approach is that treating bees for diseases prevents the bees from developing the various genetic adaptations they need to be able to cope on their own. TF lets diseases run their course in a hive, such that weak colonies die out and stronger, well-adapted, colonies survive. Ultimately varroa and other issues cease to be a problem, and the general population of both managed bees and feral bees become disease tolerant.
Our quality hallmarks are:
- No artificial feeding of established colonies (no sugar-water or pollen patties are used to supplement diet; bees are left adequate honey stores through the winter months for food)
- The elimination of applied chemical treatments for mites or any other pest
- We don’t requeen colonies (killing off the matriarch and replacing with a younger, mated queen bee). We let the hive determine when a queen is no longer effective in her role and allow natural succession. We don’t suppress swarming activities and view lost swarms as new, feral colonies and captured swarms as sustaining and promoting locally-adapted genetics. Though if a colony is not queen-right and unable to produce their own replacement, we will introduce a new queen to keep the colony alive, or disperse the bees among our other hives, depending on the time of year.
- We don’t use ether-rolls or sugar-rolls to count mites – we avoid deadly or intrusive methods to assess varroa mite counts. We do use screened bottom boards, which allow mites as well as other hive flotsam to fall through the hive rather than pile up on the floor of the hive. We have very moist conditions in the Catskill Mountains, even in drought periods there is enough ambient humidity that moisture and mold can be an issue. Screened bottom boards ensure drainage and ventilation while also allowing us to see what falls through the hive.
- Harvesting only frames of honey that are fully-capped (bees only cap honeycomb that has been dehydrated to below 18% moisture, which prevents spoilage)
- The use of manual harvesting techniques (we shake off the bees and use gentle bee brushes when removing frames of honey from the colony rather than use chemical fumigants or volatile essential oils to force the bees off the honey supers)
- Never filtering, heat-treating, pasteurising, or otherwise altering the state of the honey once out of the hive (though we may manually skim off cappings or debris from settled liquid honey)
- 100% traceability in each retail unit sold – our Honey Tracker enables the consumer to trace the origin of each unit down to the individual hive, box, frame and cut from a frame of honey. From this we can share information about the bees that produced the honey, at which time of year, from which location.
- We use smartly proportioned packaging that is reusable or recyclable just the right sizes of product to prevent spoilage in an accessible format.
- We ensure the same pricing of our products cross-platform, so whether you buy from us online, in-person, or from one of our retailers, you get the same great deal on super-premium honey. We’ll eat the wholesale discount for product placement, though we’d never want to make it more expensive to buy our products where you’re at.
- We only sell through retailers that share our commitments to high quality, sustainability, and the Catskill Mountains as our local terroir.
Our research focus is to examine the effects of treatment-free practices on year-to-year honey yield and colony survivability, and observed outcomes of consumption or application of raw honey for medicinal or dietetic purposes. We also track environmental data like soil, water, and forage analysis to determine what factors may affect honey bees and their productivity. Over time we’ll experiment with various hive styles.
The full build-out of the acreage of Griffin Corners/Chasing Honey farm will include various plantings of organic crops that are either directly or indirectly pollinated by honeybees. Weather monitoring and other observational data will help flesh out a complete farm analysis over time.
- We are stewards of the land. There is only one Earth. And if we intend to live on it peacefully, in health and harmony with the rest of the natural world, we have to limit our negative impact on the environment.
- We provide a chemical-free honey product that is harvested and packaged by hand in reusable, recyclable containers.
- We offer services for organic farmers looking to boost pollination activity on a year-round, permanent basis with hives installed and managed.
- We promote backyard beekeeping and treatment-free practices to help sustain local pollinator populations.
- We promote our farm neighbours and those doing brave things in an entrepreneurial manner.
- We have long-term plans to employ people in diverse capacities of agritourism in an area where poverty and lack of opportunity are all too common.
- We believe that Catskills natives and year-round locals deserve a break when it comes to our products and services. The reciprocal arrangement of the Catskill Mountain region and New York City with regards to limiting industrial development within the watershed to protect the drinking water of one of the world’s largest cities means that locals have sacrificed several decades of economic growth for the long-term environmental preservation of the City’s water supply.
- Because the runoff from our acreage drains across the street into Emory Brook, which feeds into the Bush Kill > East Branch of the Delaware > Pepacton Reservoir > NYC water supply, we know that whatever happens on our land ends up in the City’s drinking water within 12 months. So out of regard for the water quality of more than 8 million people, we keep nasty chemicals out of our hives and off our land.
- We are a bootstrapped, self-funded, debt-free, and wholly-owned for-profit entity.
- We abhor loans, unsecured borrowing, credit cards, mortgages or other long-term debt agreements, and dilution of owner equity in exchange for capital.
- We prefer grants, favourable rental agreements, bartering, reducing, reusing and repairing equipment, and value organic growth. Cash is king. And if we don’t have the money, we won’t buy it.
- We utilise a crowd-funded, membership-based structure to raise capital for expansion and our beekeeping activities can be contracted and consolidated based on member interest from year-to-year. Productive honey bee colonies naturally expand, swarm, and split.
- We only produce the highest quality products, which can be sold at premium prices, despite hive management methods that yield less honey than conventionally raised bees.
- We purchase from local businesses and supply our products to retailers who share our passion for high-quality, locally-produced agricultural products.
- We attract visitors to the region and make recommendations to other quality local purveyors of goods and services.