Insect-husbandry might not be the first place one’s mind goes when considering local farming operations… but where better for would-be locavores to start than with the goody whose producers symbolize Utah’s human inhabitants’ industrious nature? Bees’ Brothers family operation in Cache Valley was awarded a Slow Food Utah micro-grant this spring. Their application was written by Nathan Huntzinger, just 13, with brothers Sam, 12, and Ben, 9.
If the ages of the boys lead you to think that they must be newcomers to the apiary scene, you’d be quite mistaken —according to father Craig, Nathan has been studying bees for over 10 years, and his younger brothers started just as young; the family first learned about the habits of solitary alfalfa leafcutting bees and native blue orchard bees (important for crop pollination), before moving on to the buzzing hives of social honeybees.
Craig, himself, is a researcher who has been working with bees and their diseases since first moving to Utah for graduate school. He originally brought his work home as a hands-on educational experiment for his young family. The honey was just a side benefit…at first. Now the family maintains 11 hives, and all of the boys are well-versed in the art of beekeeping, even if they don’t (yet) possess graduate degrees of their own. In fact, the application for the micro-grant came from Nathan’s idea to experiment with harvesting comb honey, sparked by requests from customers. Cutting comb honey requires different equipment than crushing the comb to extract liquid honey, a fact which put the experimental expansion on hold until a family friend told the Huntzingers about Slow Food Utah’s micro-grant program.
So far, the project is going well. The family received additional bees in May, and installed them in hives equipped with the required special frames. They are now are experimenting with conditions to see how best to encourage the industrious bees to create their sturdy waxen combs. While Nathan’s favorite part is watching the bees, he’s not sure he wants to be a beekeeper in the long run. Nathan serves as the family’s IT guy, designing the website for the business along with mother Kami. At the site, you’ll find an e-store where you can purchase the locally made honey (as well as caramels formulated by Kami and handmade by the family). You can also read up on beekeeping, including information tailored to our locale.
The Huntzinger family can be found at the Cache Valley Farmer’s Market most Saturdays, where they’ll often have an observation hive and a child-sized bee-keeper suit—and Nathan, Sam or Ben are happy to demonstrate the basics of bee keeping.
Eating Local Info
Regular readers of CATALYST are aware of the myriad benefits of eating locally, but if you haven’t been sure where to start beyond attending your weekly farmer’s market, we’ve got you covered: For the next year, in partnership with Slow Food Utah, CATALYST will be bringing you info about local resources for eating well. Slow Food Utah is a chapter of the national Slow Food USA organization, itself part of a global grassroots movement that aims at providing food that is, in all ways, better—for the people eating it, for the people growing it, and for the land base it comes from. Thanks to a micro-grant program sponsored by Slow Food Utah, locally focused projects that increase biodiversity, provide access to more healthful food, or contribute to our community’s knowledge base are springing up on farms, community gardens, and backyards all across Utah. Whether you’re looking to connect with local farmers, or are considering your own farming project, CATALYST will be bringing you profiles of the recent recipients of Slow Food Utah’s micro-grant program to help map out the local farming landscape.
This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting recipients of Slow Food Utah’s micro-grant program. Check back next month for another installment.