WEWAHITCHKA — Buddy Nachtsheim wanted to see how this beekeeping business worked.
He had spent a couple of years selling Tupelo honey at fairs and farmers markets around the area, but when customers asked if he kept bees, he had to answer in the negative.
Last summer he decided to change that, buying three box hives and hiring a beekeeper for his Overstreet property.
“I got the idea I wanted to keep some bees and see how it all works,” Nachtsheim said.
He placed flow-hives, built to allow the collection of honey without agitating the bees, under a large oak on his property. He also completed all the red tape of registering with the state and having his bees inspected.
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The state inspector was due out Oct. 9 of last year.
“Well, we all know what happened Oct. 10,” Nachtsheim said of the day Hurricane Michael roared ashore.
Let’s say the bees dropped down the list of Nachtsheim’s priorities.
After four days of Visqueen and tarps, Nachtsheim’s dad mentioned that he might want to check on the bees.
Nachtsheim, who was just getting comfortable with the full beekeeper’s suit and hat, and actually coming up close and personal with the bees, donned his gear and headed out, only to find bees and battered hives.
“They were madder than (heck),” Nachtsheim said with a laugh.
He reassembled the hives and placed them in their original spot and left with a parting shot of support.
“I wish you guys luck,” Nachtsheim said, punctuated by another laugh.
About a week later, the state beekeeping association called and said Nachtsheim should be doing something to feed his bees. Given the destruction from Hurricane Michael, blooms were scarce and the bees were literally starving.
The state set up a distribution point in Wewahitchka for beekeepers to pick up 5-gallon buckets of corn syrup and Nachtsheim ordered a device that sits atop a hive and allowed the bees to feed.
“They sucked all that corn syrup (two buckets) down in two or three days,” Nachtsheim said.
“They were starving.”
Eventually Nachtsheim switched to good old sugar water, thick and syrupy, and spent two months nurturing his bees until the plant blooms started to reappear in April and May. He also moved the hives from under the oak to property across the road. And on Memorial Day weekend, Nachtsheim turned the crank on his hive and ended up with 35 pounds of what he is labeling “Hurricane Honey.”
“The bees survived,” he said. “These guys are tough to survive all they went through. I wanted to let ground zero honey be an inspiration for surviving the storms of life.”
Nachtsheim is selling the limited supply of his “Hurricane Honey” in 4 ounce jars that are a retro take on a Muth jar, a cork-topped jar created by Charles Muth. The jar comes with an inspirational postcard with photos of the hives after the hurricane and now.
Nachtsheim also sells more traditional and Tupelo honey is 8 and 16 ounce jars.
To purchase “Hurricane Honey” from Nachtsheim call him at 814-0754 or visit Goodnewshoney.com to order.
Nachtsheim will ship it or, if close enough, deliver it himself.
This story originally published newsherald.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network.