Inside SVG: Tony and His Bees

For this month’s “Inside SVG”, we sat down with Transfer Agent Team Lead and semi-professional bee keeper, Tony Hartman.

While some people run at the sight of a bee, Tony considers his 130,000 bees simply an addition to his pets. In an effort to benefit his local neighborhood, Tony created an entire bee oasis in his backyard.

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In the spring of 2015, Tony and his wife were brainstorming ways to better their community. Their answer: bee keeping. After learning of the negative environmental effects of declining bee populations around the country, they made their idea a reality.

With $800 from a Kickstarter campaign to fund their new hobby, the Hartman’s purchased their first beehive.

“We’ve learned so much throughout this whole process,” Tony says. “For instance, did you know that bees travel as far as two miles to forage for pollen and nutrients?”

Tony and his wife manage close to 130,000 bees in three identical three-foot-tall hives. Every week they check each of their 60 combs for signs of colony health such as honey color. They also ensure the queen bee is still living as the colony can collapse without her presence.

Tony’s first struggle with the bees happened last spring when an infestation of hive beetles wiped out almost their entire population.

“My wife and I joke that we killed more bees than we produced last year,” Tony laughs. “But there is also so much optimism behind this whole adventure because I feel like we are doing something good.”

Another issue arose when Tony experienced an equipment malfunction.

One night, Tony and his wife were bringing home a set of bees for a new hive. Tony didn’t tie his bee keeper hat tight enough and some overly-friendly bees made their way into his facemask.

“I heard louder buzzing than normal and felt pelting hits against my neck. Then, I realized they were in my mask! I just freaked out,” Tony recalls. “I looked like Chris Farley trying to get the bees out of my mask with my giant bee keeping gloves.”

Despite the occasional adversity, Tony and his wife love their bees. Their main goal is to continue growing healthy bee colonies and they hope to harvest honey this year.