Marc Hoffman, Fairy Tale Honey LLC doing business as Fairy Tale Queens, 9408 Worth Ave., Silver Spring, Md. 20901, firstname.lastname@example.org
I first encountered bees when I was a student at a college north of Los Angeles in 1971. A film company had rented part of the campus to make a science fiction film, working title “The Honey Factor.” Sitting on a hill in the hot afternoon, I saw a man in a beekeeping outfit working with blue tarps and what he later told me was a million and a half bees on the green lawn. Every time he got the bees flying, many of them would fly onto him. He was the Michelin Man of bees. Much later I learned that his name is Norm Gary, famous scientist and bee wrangler.
He took a break near me and told me that in wrangling the bees he had gotten a queen bee crushed onto his bee suit, which was why the bees glommed onto him. He said the film shooting had been delayed and that he was stuck keeping his bees there overnight, which was going to be cold there at the edge of the desert, and he hadn’t brought hive equipment. So he had to get the bees clustered. I volunteered to help and he got me a bee suit. Later he said I was brave to help him. I said, “You told me it was safe. If I knew I was being brave I wouldn’t have done it.” The film, released as “Invasion of the Bee Girls” is mildly pornographic and really stupid.
Fast forward to 1983, in Indonesia. A friend introduced me to Gordy Wardell, who was doing a beekeeping development project there.
By 1985 I was at the East West Center in Hawaii and a friend sold me his bees. Beekeeping in Hawaii was a racket! No pests, no dearth. I just put on comb honey till my friends wouldn’t take any more.
Back in the Washington, DC area in 1987, Gordy had become the Maryland Extension Apiculture representative and member of the Entomology Department at the University of Maryland. He introduced me to another Entomology Department person (but mosquitos), and we’ve now been together for 24 years. When Barbara and I set up housekeeping together, we put a beehive in the backyard, with Gordy’s help.
Soon the one hive had become many–too many for our backyard–so I started putting hives in orchards in eastern Montgomery County, and eventually Howard County.
We began selling raw, natural, local honey at Heyser Farms, an all-year farm stand in Colesville, Maryland. The name Fairy Tale Honey was suggested several years ago by my daughter, who was 8 years old at the time. She also drew the logo.
I took Marla Spivak’s queen raising course at the University of Minnesota, and began raising queens. She teaches the Doolittle method, applicable to raising a few queens to industrial quantities.
In 2013 I formalized the business, registering Fairy Tale Honey LLC, also doing business as Fairy Tale Queens. In 2013 we used an overwintered, productive queen as a breeder, and later secured an artificially inseminated VSH queen from VP Queens run by Adam Finkelstein and Kelly Rausch in nearby Frederick, Maryland.
In the summer of 2014 we are scaling up, supplying our area with open mated local queens from local stock and VSH stock. An innovation will be the availability of picking up queens over the counter from Heysers in Colesville, Maryland, with availability visible in our Queen Cage Webcam.
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