Nathan, Cassie, Reid, and Mattie Kate Coleman
My family has lived in the same bend of the Duck River for over 210 years now. I am keeping bees on the same farm that my great grandfather plowed with mules during the Great Depression. Honey bees have become a passion of mine, and I’m trying hard to make a living beekeeping.
Our operation is small but growing, and I hope in the next year or two that our outfit will mature and be a viable, stable, long term business that can support our family of four. I couldn’t do this without my wonderful wife on board.
The next couple years will be lean and tough, with a lot of worry and hard work. Expectations influence our perception of reality, and though our path is tough, at least I’m not plowing with mules during the Great Depression.
Honey bees are a miraculous creature. They are fascinating to study and work with, though very frustrating, and at times heartbreaking. They are never dull, and always a challenge. The rewards of beekeeping for a career are incredible! The pay isn’t that good, but I work outside in the sunshine and the rain, caretaking and being a steward of a miracle of nature. I’m stung on a daily basis, browned by the sun, and hard work means I don’t need a gym membership.
My job is to help produce a pure, raw, natural, and wholesome food. I take great pride in our honey. The quality of honey comes down to the color, flavor, and aroma. Those depend on the flowers the bees forage, and those nectar sources change every year with the whims of mother nature. One year the honey will be light amber and have a tangy note, the next it will be red amber and have a deep rich flavor, all dictated by which trees and plants are producing strongly that year.
Because the quality of honey is set by mother nature there are few ways to improve it, and many ways to degrade it. We are very careful to preserve the quality of our honey. We strain particulates but do not filter to ensure that pollens and fine wax are in our honey. We never heat our honey hotter that 105°F, which preserves the enzymes put there by the bees. Our honey is pure, raw, minimally processed, and the quality is as good as you’ll find anywhere.
Beekeeping as a career is hard, but rewarding. The very act of keeping bees helps the entire ecosystem around me. I feel like I’m doing good in the world.
This venture may succeed or fail, but either way, I can say I tried.
Nathan Coleman, Beekeeper