About Us

Melanie Howard in the kitchen

Hi! I'm Melanie Howard

I live in Millbrook, NY, with my husband Jim and our bulldog, Peggy. Jim and I relocated to this part of the Hudson Valley from New York City about 16 years ago.

Growing up in Iowa and California, I always loved outdoor activities and animals. In Iowa, I was a Future Farmer of America. I rode my horse, Buck, in western shows.

In the early 90s, I moved to the Big Apple where I worked for various companies, big and small, in marketing and event planning. While I loved my time in the city, I am more at home here in the country.

 

Melanie as a Future Farmer of America
Bee Bus package installation
Frame with brood and bees

Jim, on the other hand, is Brooklyn born and bred…a city boy. He is still active in his commercial real estate finance business but finds time to work with me on various projects. (He’s still adapting to this rural lifestyle).

Together, we maintain a vegetable garden, preserve food, tap trees to make maple syrup and keep honey bees.

Our Beekeeping Story

Our honey bee journey began a little over 5 years ago by attending a local beekeeper’s one-day course. We sat with another couple who had begun beekeeping the year before but lost all their bees over the winter.

“We were told bees were low maintenance but I heard ‘NO maintenance,’ ” said the husband. Thus began our first lesson.

At the end of the course, we arranged to acquire a colony from our instructor, went home and ordered equipment online. We later picked up our bees, installed them in our new hive box. Several months later lost them after a bear found them too appealing.

We started over the next year. Since then we’ve had no fewer than 2 colonies each year and as many as 5. We’ve learned some things that work for us and some that don’t.

And while we can buy honey lots of places, it never seems to taste as good as the honey that eventually came from our own bees. (Okay, so we’re biased.)

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Learn from our experience

There is no doubt that we jumped into beekeeping before we fully appreciated what was involved. We’ve made plenty of mistakes, learned a lot along the way and discovered useful resources.

We’ve been stung, lost bees to harsh winters, lost bees to swarming, lost bees to a bear, screwed up installations and made plenty of mistakes.

We’ve also changed hive configurations, tried various mite treatments, re-queened hives, split hives, gotten colonies through harsh winters, recaptured swarms and harvested honey.

Maybe our experiences can help make your first few years of beekeeping a bit easier and give you ideas about how you’d like to approach your new hobby.

Have fun knowing it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s all part of beekeeping.

 

 

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