GardenShare

GardenShare

Friday, June 30, 2017

Farmer Friday- Harmony Farm

Harmony Farms located on 273 Randall Road, Waddington 
       
           Many will share a multitude of reasons that prompted their decision to make honey, however few will associate a desire to make soda as their initial exposure into the world of beekeeping. But that was just the case for the Kalicins, of Harmony Farm, when Debs Kalicin could not find any gold ginger ale to purchase in the area and set off to make some her own. This search for local honey, as one of the ingredients, ignited an interest in bees. A curiosity so strong, that in 1972 the Kalicins began what they thought of as a productive way to spend some time during their retirement. Now over forty years later, Greg Kalicin pleasantly describes it as, "a hobby that has gotten out of control".             
With 30 colonies on and around their property, Greg and Debs produce and sell pure honey. The entire process is executed within a walking distance from the Kalicin’s front door. Three stainless steel machines are found in a small building behind the Kalicin’s home where the contents of the apiaries are extracted, held, and bottled into jars. Each machine is used to ensure that the procedure produces no waste, collecting every last drop of the golden liquid. 
It is has become widely known that the global population of bees have been in decline over the past decades. This poses a severe threat because bees are so heavily tied to our food supply. One out of every three bites of food an average human consumes is pollinated by these insects. To help protect their honeybees, Greg and Debs choose to use non-chemical and alternative treatments on their plants and colonies. “Modern agriculture is just not conducive to bee keeping” Greg states as he explains the poor health or population loss he has seen in his bees.
There are a multitude of factors that limit bees from achieving a proper diet. Debs explains that each plant offers a different nutrient that bees extract through pollination. Similar to how humans need well-balanced meals to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is essential that bees are able to feed off of a diverse supply of plants to ensure the same. Many of the bees that come to the area are in rough shape from pollinating the same crop too frequently. Bee health is improved due to the sometimes unintentional assistance of local organic farmers in the area that allow a diversified and contaminant free food source. One unique fact that Greg points out is that beekeepers may be one of the few professions that can benefit from invasive species, “the bees like it and farmer’s aren’t spraying it”. 
The Kalicins dedicate their time around a species that many will commit their lives trying to avoid. “It really gets in your blood,” proclaims Greg when describing his adherence to beekeeping.
An apiary with busy honey bees inside a property of Harmony Farm
Inside a shed that stores a couple apiaries and hundreds of bees, the environment produces a very unexpected sensation. Their buzzing is almost meditative. Greg checks in on his bees every two to three weeks to ensure that every part of the colony is working successfully and explains that this sound is a good sign. The buzzing the bees make when it is time to open a crate indicate whether or not the colony is experiencing difficulties. It is that calm hum of these busy insects that you want to hear. If the noises of worker bees alter, or sound inconsistent, it can be an indicator that something isn’t working right.
It is a beekeepers job to ensure that the colony will function properly. The bees are responsible for most of the work, but the beekeeper provides the means for them to do so. One of the most important responsibilities is to make sure that there is a strong population in the colony. Bee population correlates to honey production, and this, Greg explains, is often the hardest aspect to control.
The population is a reflection of how the queen bee acclimates once introduced to the colony. Queens are normally ordered from an outside source and shipped to the beekeeper. “Each queen has a personality and different traits, you’ll see that some do a fantastic job of laying eggs and some that are just duds”. It truly is pure chance, and that can be discouraging, or hard to understand, to those who are new to beekeeping. Although that has yet to discourage the Kalicins, who continue to visit conferences and involve themselves in beekeeper associations to continue to learn and improve their craft.
Sales kiosk on the road of Harmony Farms
Pure honey will never spoil as long as the jar remains sealed tight. It has been used as a medicine since the beginning of human history, and the endless benefits caused many early human civilizations to worship this golden food. An adoration for honey that seems to be coming back into modern society. 
Many people who buy Harmony Farm’s honey will approach Greg at the farmers market to share the medicinal benefits the product helped heal. He has heard many common uses such as healing a sore throat, to more obscure remedies such as ringworm. 
If you are craving something sweet, looking to improve your health, or want to support the honeybees, try your luck at the Cantons Farmers Market or at the sales kiosk located on their property in Waddington, NY. 

Learn more about Harmony Farm: http://www.harmonyfarm.net/index.php