- About Us
Ben & Kimberly Carpenter; 2016 EAS Master Beekeepers, Owners of Hungry Bear Farms in Middlesex, NY.
We began our hobby farm in 2008 located in the beautiful Finger Lakes of NY State. Just off Canandaigua Lake, we are in the valley nestled at the base of a hill surrounded by woods and wildlife. My husband Ben and I both share a love of nature and being outside. We saw an ad in the local newspaper that winter for a Beginner Beekeeping Class as well as a Maple Syrup Workshop. Ben wanted to do Maple Syrup and I wanted to do Beekeeping, so we compromised and did both! Little did we know where this journey would take us. We both share a love of nature so starting our own hobby farm was a pretty easy decision. Being newly married and new home owners we got ourselves a small flock of laying hens, some ducks, turkeys, and rabbits and eventually a cow. We also got our two German Shepherds that go everywhere with us; to conferences, events, our store and even to the apiary.
By day we would be taking care of our animals, building our first hives over the winter and pouring over beginner beekeeping books and by night we would be out in our woods tapping maple trees with headlamps and running lines and buckets for our first season. We both grew up with families that had deep roots in the country and appreciated living sustainably and working hard for what you want out of life. These were things instilled into us from a very young age from our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Ben's father and grandfather had a modest size beekeeping operation in the mountains of Pennsylvania that focused mainly on comb honey production. While my grandmother kept somewhere between 20-40 hives on my great-grandfather's farm in Orwell, NY up in the Tug Hill snow belt. I can still remember peeking around the corner of the old barn watching grandma work the bees in her veil with the smoker puffing away. She always brought me back a dish of honey in the comb for me to eat later that day. The sweet honey from the summer flowers and white wax is something I'll always remember from my childhood.
Finally having our own land to work we were eager to step into the footprints of our parents and grandparents. We started out with 2 hives the first year which quickly became 10 by the next year then quadrupled every year since then. Like the bees, Maple Syrup quickly got larger over the years as well. When we first starting tapping our Maple trees we had 50 on tap and over the years have gotten to 1000 taps and soon to be more.
In 2010, we started a beekeeping supply store to help out the local beekeeping club since there were no supply stores close by. Little did we know the journey that decision would take us on. There have been a lot of ups and downs like with any small business starting out but we've overcome many challenges together and have continued to grow by leaps and bounds each year. When we first started out our supply store we had about 10-15 big boxes of equipment in our families store, The PC & Wireless Shop, where we share a space. We had them stacked
along the hallway and any extra space we could find in the back of the store. When beginner orders started flowing in in the late winter and early Spring, we found we were quickly running out of room. We then starting receiving orders at our farm and set up about 10 pallets inside a covered popup garage to store our extra inventory. We'd be outside in the middle of the winter in our Carhart bibs and mittens sorting beginner orders with headlamps and heaters to take to our store since we didn't have the space there to do so yet.
By the end of our second season we gained access to a warehouse in our same building and moved our pallets there instead of at our farm so that we could expand our product offering since we were then getting semi-loads of equipment in. Over the years we've quickly continued to grow and have now expanded our current warehouse of 2000 SQ ft with all sorts of beekeeping equipment in stock. We've also increased our wood shop over the years to now be able to build our own custom boxes, hive equipment and other custom products. Ben enjoys woodworking and can build just about anything we need for the farm and beekeeping business. We do custom assembly work as well as painting boxes now for beekeepers. As well as commercial size orders for boxes and custom bee pallets.
Our apiary has grown as our business has and as we began shipping some hives to Florida for the winter we also started shipping equipment for sale south too. Ben is in charge of sales and logistics while I'm in charge of the beekeeping side of the operation. My love is queen rearing and each year I've selected for certain traits to have good hardy northern stock to keep in NY and to ship across the country. The hives we take to Florida in the winter help us to double or triple the number of hives we have by April when we bring them back to NY. Since we do not take all our hives south we still can maintain our good northern genetics with re-queening and keep the hives we bring back in separate holding yards so they do not mix.
A couple years into our beekeeping adventure we also started teaching beginner beekeeping classes on our farm as well in the classroom. Education has played a huge part in our life as beekeepers. Not only helping new beekeepers start out but also educating the general public that does not keep bees. Helping everyone to value the honey bee and other native pollinators that they find in their yards and to be mindful about what they put into the environment. We've also helped many new beekeepers start in our local beekeeping club and have helped that club to grow and flourish. With that we also started selling nucs several years ago and have since continued that each year with great success helping out new and existing beekeepers.
It's always a great joy for us to see new-bees starting out and coming to our farm in the spring to pick up their first bees. All the smiling faces are like parents waiting to hold a new born baby. All the new beekeepers can't wait to get home and setup their new hives. It's a pleasure to watch them grow as they start the process in the beginner classes, to picking up their bees, attending bee club meetings, volunteering and making it thru their first winter sometimes as anxious new parents. By the next year they are usually a little more seasoned and ready to take on more responsibilities. We're happy to have helped all the new beekeepers that we have and the club all these years. It's certainly been a joy and a sense of pride for us to be able to help and see everything grow so much.
In our local store we carry all sorts of products from all the major beekeeping distributors so that we can help our customers with whatever they are looking for, along with our own custom line of woodenware. We have a wide variety of things on hand at all times and are happy to help you figure out what you need to get started. We believe in investing as much time into each customer as they need so that as a new beekeeper or even someone who already has hives, we help you get started the best we can so you have a great positive first experience keeping bees and keep on going.
We try to support our local businesses in the area by buying as much locally as we can including buying local fresh foods to help maintain as self sufficient of a life as possible. With all the recent problems with agriculture and where our food comes from these days, we find it important to buy foods locally grown from people we trust. To know where our food comes from and to develop a relationship with these farmers, people who are just like us. A lot of these farmers we buy from we also help pollinate their crops, so we know not only where our food comes from but also where our bees have been and the nectar they've collected.
We want to help all the small businesses as much as we can in the area flourish as they have also helped us to. Community involvement is important to us and we enjoy volunteering our time where we can. From collecting honey bee swarms on Main Street to giving lectures to different societies and schools, we enjoy being a part of the local community as well as the larger beekeeping community nationally. We do a great deal of traveling across the country going to various national beekeeping conferences to speak as well as network with other beekeepers to bring their knowledge back to our local beekeeping community.
In 2016, we finally reached a goal we have been working on for several years and both received our certification of becoming EAS (Eastern Apiculture Society) Master Beekeepers. It has been a long fun road to this accomplishment and we look forward to many other goals and challenges ahead in our beekeeping careers. We've got lots of new things in store for this upcoming year in 2017 and look forward to many more years helping out the beekeeping community. We've enjoyed all the years we've been doing this and we appreciate all the support and friendships we've had along the way with fellow beekeepers. Thank you for being there for us and doing business with us, we appreciate it greatly and look forward to many more years to come.
Thanks for visiting our business and our site! Remember to support your farmers and buy Local. Have a honey of a day!
Bee Happy, Bee Healthy, Buy Local!
Ben & Kimberly Carpenter ~ Hungry Bear Farms