What inconvenience pops into your head when you’re at a picnic? Bees… Landing on uncovered food or drinks and they most likely won’t leave after getting a taste of that sweet cuisine. While I can’t solve this problem specifically, but maybe learning about bees can create more of an appreciation for them.
WHAT'S THE BUZZ?
What is all the buzz about the honeybees anyway? Well, in all actuality the bees really haven’t gotten the attention they deserve. We often get bees, wasps and jackets all intertwined and anything that makes a buzzing noise makes us want to smack it. Before completely freaking out, take a look. If the insect is hairy and round, it’s a honeybee. They are also considered worker bees and that is what they are born to do—work. When you see one, cheer her on!
MORE THAN JUST HONEY, HONEY
Carl and Kiah Crowley gave Visit Spearfish the opportunity to dive in and get a firsthand look at what beekeeping is all about. The very first thing to note about bees is that their work isn’t JUST for honey. They produce wax, pollen and are responsible for pollinating 80% of the world’s plants including 90 different food crops. But, to begin what inspired the Crowely’s to start a beekeeping business?
Kiah’s parents were both beekeepers and she grew up around bees her entire life, so she naturally grew a passion for them. In 2008 Kiah met Carl and he began to work on her parents’ bee farm. Soon after, they fell in love and began their own bee farm. In 2010 they purchased what is now Sunrise Hives and they relocated it to Saint Onge, South Dakota. They now have 400 colonies with a focus on sustainable beekeeping practices to keep their honeybees healthy.
There seems to be a trend in locally owned businesses when asked what their typical day looks like—there isn’t one.
Each day depends on how the bees are doing out in the field so, the first step was to visit the bees. Each honeycomb collects their own honey and when extracting it, it is important to check that the comb is 90 % capped. Once all the frames that contain the honeycombs are removed, Carl takes them to an area in which is inaccessible to the bees and extracts the honey and then deposits it into huge metal tanks. From there it can sit or be poured into bottles.
One of the cool things about leaving it in the tanks is that honey is its own filter and anything that doesn’t belong, floats to the top and the beekeepers can remove the top layer.
While extracting the honey, the wax is what keeps it from spilling out of the comb and once that is collected it can be used for candles, lotion, and lip balm. Sunrise Hives offers many other products like honey of course, honeycombs, creamed honey, salves and soaps.
To make products from wax, Kiah takes it and melts it so that she can mold it and mix it with other organic ingredients to create the perfect product. She has a lot of different candle molds and delicious scented soaps! I personally recommend the coffee infused soap bar, it is a great exfoliant and helps the appearance of your skin.
One of the many things I learned from Kiah, was that it is very beneficial to consume honey and honey products from your area because it is made with the pollen that is in the air already and once you begin to consume it your body builds an immunity to it and ends up helping with allergies. A product they have in stock for a short amount of time is pollen.
Yeah, I never thought I would eat straight up pollen either, but it is DELICIOUS! This year specifically, is a good year for the honey bees because the clover is at it’s best, which makes the honey and pollen super sweet. On top of it satisfying the taste buds, pollen has more beneficial aspects than a multi vitamin, but you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for when they are in stock because it’s not for long and they go quickly! Being able to provide products like these takes about a week to get from the field to the consumer shelf and everyday is a different step. It’s evident they stay busy but they don’t stop there.
FULL TIME JOB X2
Beekeeping quickly turns into a full-time job. Now try adding homeschooling. Yeah, on top of this crazy cool business, they teach their son at home. During the winter season, it gets too cold in South Dakota to keep the bees here, so they send them to California and travel there to keep their bees happy. It would be too hard to keep switching schools or leaving their son behind, so they homeschool and Kiah loves it. Through this Carl and Kiah use the little free time they do have to speak about the honeybees and their importance to kids in schools and most recently they have been starting conversations with adults as well.
Staying busy and motivated requires inspiration and when I asked Kiah what inspires her to keep going, without hesitation she responds with her parents. She grew up watching it all and seeing how her brothers worked with her parents. Even to this day, Kiah’s parents have their own bee farm and continue selling and making products. They are very successful, and that is what Kiah admires the most.
WHERE CAN I FIND SUNRISE HIVES?
Sunrise Hives makes it easy to invest in their products but, finding them is a different story. You can find Sunrise Hives products at Bees Knees Natural Foods Store, Gage’s Gardens, and Good Earth Natural Foods here in Spearfish. They also take online orders and offer free local pickup!
It is encouraging to see that bees are finally getting the reputation they deserve which is one of the biggest reasons Carl and Kiah are in the business. Kiah wants to leave the public with a little advice as well- honeybees are not usually aggressive unless their combs are invaded, so let them collect their nectar and pollen and enjoy the honey they produce!
If you have any questions or need more information, visit sunrisehives.com.