Mountain Valley Farm
MAKER'S STORY by Gib Geiger
I had been fascinated with honeybees since I was a boy. It is amazing to witness the work that they do building the intricate angled honeycomb, nurturing a queen to lay her eggs, communicating where to go for pollen or a new home, capping their honey just at the proper humidity level, and so much more.
There has to be a higher power involved to instinctively do what they do, especially in the dark, and with such precision and social organization. When we bought our farm, 20 years ago, it came with two hives and the beekeeper Bob Tracy.
I learned a lot from Bob over the years, but challenges in beekeeping have changed immensely since then. Bears have increased tenfold and keeping them out is a constant battle. Mites and the diseases they vector, are raising havoc now too. Keeping honeybees is very much like managing any other livestock here on our farm. You need to keep them healthy and safe, and like all forms of agriculture, the weather dictates what you do each and every day.
I have found that beekeeping, even though it can be time consuming, is extremely satisfying. There is, of course, the awesome honey reward, but now, there is a growing concern with the survival of bees that the general public has gotten involved with. Schools and Vermont beekeeping clubs have been seeking classes and workshops along with advice for the “newbie” beekeepers. That is a reward for the bees as well as for me!
The opportunity to share what I know is truly great, but what is also fulfilling is knowing that the learning will continue with each future year.
—Gib Geiger, Mountain Valley Farm