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Beekeeping is sweet success for Babcock
PHOTO COURTESY RON BABCOCK
What fuels your fire? I have had many interests throughout my life, primarily driven by the desire to learn. But at some point my interest faded, and having learned as much as I could, I moved on. They all started as a spark, but without fuel, they burnt out.
No matter what your passion is, it helps to be fueled at an early age. For me, it started as a young boy on my aunt and uncle’s farm in Western Colorado. I spent much of my summer as a youth there. After helping my uncle with chores, I walked the mile down the road to visit their neighbors, who kept bees. I sat, watched and listened to the stories of the neighbors, hanging on every word.
In 2002, we purchased a quarter section of land with the hope of moving closer to my wife’s family someday, and fulfilling our dream of living in the country. That same year my mother passed away, and living too many years in the city, this farm-boy-at-heart was ready for a change. Following much trepidation we decided to take a leap of faith. We liquidated all of our assets and moved from Colorado to Nebraska. The fire was beginning to grow.
We didn’t have jobs, or a place to live, and had to leave many good friends behind. The first two years were spent building our “green” home from the ground up. Long days and a lot of sweat went into the place, getting it to the point it is today. As with any business, the farm needs to continually evolve, while striving to be good stewards of the land.
Becoming a beekeeper was near the top of my bucket list. I enrolled in a beginning beekeeping class offered by UNL and was raring to go. I completed the Master Beekeeping program, and the following year, the Queen Rearing program. Beekeeping became another facet of the farm. I expanded the number of colonies and started selling honey.
After selectively breeding queens with desired traits for my own use, I began to sell a few replacement queens to local beekeepers. Once word got out that I was rearing quality queens along with selling nucs (a small starter hive) and honey, the demand became greater than I could meet.
In addition, I began collecting swarms of honeybees and removing honeybees from structures. Relocating swarms of bees gives them a better chance of survival.
A hive is a marvelous miracle of nature. Every time I open a hive, there is something to be learned. This passion also propelled me into teaching beginning beekeeping and public speaking engagements. I also organized a local group of beekeepers that gathers every other month to share and learn.
Almost everyone knows the bee populations are declining due to disease. What many don’t know is its ripple effect. Every third bite of food we eat and 40 percent of the nutrition we need to thrive is directly attributed to pollination by bees. It is important for everyone to do what they can to save the bees!For me, success is bringing a greater awareness to the plight of bees and what I am able to give back in my work. Beekeeping is sustainable agriculture at its finest. Whether it’s bees or some other interest, discover what fuels your fire. That fire will be the driver in your success.
Ron and his wife Kathy own Babcock Farms in Spring Ranch, Nebraska. They have added beekeeping to their operation to aid sustainability. He is a student of the natural world.
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