Will Sears makes local honey for local people.
It sounds simple enough, but it’s not. Over the course of a year, Sears and his honeybees will have traveled from Midland to Georgia and back again. Some of his hives even make it all the way to California, to help pollinate the almond trees there.
But the hives always come back to Midland, all 226 of them. Sears makes sure of it; he drives them himself.
Sears owns and operates the Midland Bee Company. He’s done so since 2011, when he retired from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
He started with two hives, and its since grown to 226. While that may seem like a lot, it’s actually not that much. Sears says there are honeybee farms with thousands of hives.
"I had a big garden, and I just wanted a couple of hives so the honeybees could pollinate the plants, wildflowers and things," he says. "I started to harvest the honey and I sold out every year.
"And then it just seemed to grow from there."
Sears harvests the honey and sells it under the Midland Bee Company brand. The local honey is readily available at the Midland Area Farmers Market, and year-round in several area stores, as well.
While Sears runs a business selling honey, his honeybees are in high demand across the nation. The honeybee population is in decline, which could pose a serious threat to the United States food supply. Sears says that 30 percent of the food we eat relies on honeybee pollination.
Working to spread awareness of the honeybee decline, Sears has an educational beekeeping booklet that he distributes to several area schools. He also gets invited to garden clubs, where he’ll give presentations on beekeeping, too.
Asked what people can do to help the honeybee population and Sears replies with pollinator planning, or providing the bees with food sources.
Our own food sources rely on it.
"I get stung, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t get stung all the time," Sears says. "Just be gentle.
"No sudden movements."
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