Self-described hobbyist beekeeper Devin Hudson of Honey Bee Lake Apiaries in Frankford is not new to the idea of selling his goods at farmers’ markets. His family has been selling to beachgoers for generations.
His great-grandfather, “Pop Pop Harley” Vickers, sold fruits and vegetables in Bethany Beach, and his grandfather on his father’s side did as well. This is Hudson’s second year at the Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market, and he is joining the new Fenwick Island Farmers’ Market, too.
After taking an environmental science class with now-retired teacher Nancy Goggin at Sussex Tech, Hudson got interested in bees. After Googling bees and how to make honey on the Internet, he ordered his first package of bees, which included three pounds of bees and one queen. He now has 23 hives and is looking to expand.
“I set the box up, and they sent the package through the mail, and I picked them up at the distribution center in Georgetown,” he explained. “The queen comes separately, and the other bees slowly eat through something similar to a piece of hard candy. And, by the time they get through, in two or three days, they are used to her pheromones. And then, in three weeks or so, you get your first hatch.”
He explained that during the first year he mainly built the colony up and fed them a lot with sugar and water so they could build up a lot of wax. After that first year, he could start harvesting the honey.
He checks on the bees about once a week. Once he sees the frames of capped-over honey, he uses an extractor to get the honey out, although that is not easy work.
“It’s very energy-intensive,” he explained. “It takes all day to collect 50 pounds. Soon, I might get one with a motor.”
Hudson noted that a good reason to buy local honey is that, because of the trace amounts of pollen from native plants, eating it actually helps in people with allergies.
Although he was always interested in plants, Hudson said he never really paid any attention to bees until that science class.
“My teacher got me to suit up one day, and I thought, ‘This isn’t too bad.’ And then I started to work around them with no suit, and thought, ‘This isn’t that bad either.’”
“They are really nice,” noted his girlfriend, Jordan Estes, of the bees. “The only time I got stung I wasn’t even near the hives. One just got stuck in my hair and got really freaked out.”
“Hot days with bright sunshine, [the bees] are the calmest,” explained Hudson. “You don’t want to be near them when it’s low pressure, rainy or dark.”
“Bees are complex,” he added. “It is really interesting to see them week to week,” he said.
Honey Bee Lake Apiaries will be at the Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market and the Fenwick Island Farmers’ Market, selling one-pound bottles of local honey, as well as homemade soaps, lip balm and hand salve made using honey.