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Walking into his barber shop to get a haircut, East parent James Reimer noticed a bottle of honey sitting on his barber’s mirror. He wasn’t sure what exactly it was that caught his eye, but he knew he was interested, and had found his new hobby.
“I just knew I liked honey and was intrigued that you could provide a space for honey bees and they would make honey that you could take,” Reimer said.
The barber told him that there was a man down the street who sold equipment out of his garage and loved to teach people this hobby.
“So I went right after my haircut and the rest is history,” Reimer said.
The process of beekeeping begins strictly with the bees. The bees will put the honey in a special frame that Reimer puts on the the hive early in the season, usually around Jan. As simple as it sounds, the bees then make as much honey as they want for themselves. Once they’ve completed that, they’re opportunistic, and they will make more honey if they have the space.
This is the honey that Reimer collects. These boxes are called honey boxes, or supers, which he puts on top of the hives to prevent the queen bee from laying eggs in them. Only the worker bees will be able to fit through the screen and store honey in the comb. When the bees are done making the honey, the bees will put a wax cap on it to preserve it. Reimer then takes those frames off the combs around Aug. and September takes the wax cap off and puts the frames in a hand crank centerfuse. This centerfuse throws the honey out of the comb, so that Reimer can reuse the same combs.
This year, Reimer is taking honey from five hives which are located all over: two in their backyard, one at a farm at the Overland Park Arboretum and the last two at a farm near Liberty, MO. Reimer advises visiting the hives three or four times during the season for a newly started hive. For a hive that is about a year old, he suggests visiting twice during the season so that the beekeeper doesn’t disrupt the bees at work.
When he visits these hives, Reimer always makes sure to wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants, leather gloves and a veil. In order to not get stung, he has to smoke the bees so that they won’t be as aggressive.
“It helps momentarily distract the bees while we get the honey and do what we need to do,” freshman Hale Reimer, son of James Reimer said.
Although The Reimers have had up to 300 pounds of honey produced from their hives, this year they only have 75 pounds due to the cold weather.
“If you have a good queen and good weather, you’ll have a good year,” Reimer said. “The queen runs the show.”
When selling the honey, Reimer usually looks at the prices of honey in grocery stores to base the price of their own honey off of. Currently, the honey is being sold for $5 per pound, but the money goes towards buying new equipment and bottles instead of in their pockets.
Although this could turn into a business for many, it remains just an enjoyable hobby for Reimer.