January 19, 2018

Honey bees find new caretakers in Fairview family

The Handrich family takes over ownership of Applebee Farm

Posted

FAIRVIEW –– Applebee Farm saw new ownership in early December as Richard Monk stepped down and introduced the Handrich family to beekeeping practices.

Jubal and Kalie Handrich of Fairview, along with their three children, moved back to Fairview after three years spent in Saginaw pursuing degrees at Saginaw Valley State University.

“Fresh out of high school we got hitched and moved to Saginaw to attend college,” Kalie said. “During our three years in Saginaw, we had a difficult time tracking down local, raw honey. After months of searching to no avail, we started wondering if we could produce honey for ourselves. We got in touch with many beekeepers, asked questions, read books and soon realized that backyard beekeeping would not fit in our college student budget.”

In 2013, Jubal received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and Kalie received an associate degree in early childhood development. Jubal is now a mechanical engineer at MetalFab and Kalie stays home with 5-year-old Ruby, 2-year-old Esther and 1-year-old Amelia.

In 2014, the couple moved back to Fairview with their growing family and continued to grow their interest in beekeeping.

“In 2016, Rick asked Jubal if he would like to learn the trade of beekeeping,” Kalie said. “Jubal spent the summer apprenticing under Rick and fell in love with working the bees. Jubal enjoys the challenge of anticipating the bees’ needs, methodically tracking the bees’ health and observing one of the world’s most intelligent insects.”

Kalie said Jubal really enjoys the biology behind working (with) the bees, as they are such an intricate and complicated insect. She said she enjoys the health and ecological sides of the activity, as honey has incredible health benefits and the bees offer many benefits to the pollination of the farming community. She said the two are also loving the fact that their daughters can be so involved as well.

Kalie said their 5-year-old, Ruby, regularly assists her dad in the bee yard and the activity brings the whole family together.

“She begs to join him and feels rather offended if he can’t bring her along,” she said. “At this point, she is very used to 100 bees flying around her face. She knows to stay calm and move slowly. To date, she has yet to be stung. She holds the smoker and helps Jubal check the frames.”

According to Kalie, it is a well-known fact within the beekeeping community that children can often see in the beekeeping frames better than adults can.

“He really likes having her around,” she said. “We fully anticipate our 3-year-old, Esther, to join them in the yards this summer. The only reason she couldn't last year was because the child-size bee suits we own were too big for her.”

Applebee Farm is working on expanding products and now offers creamed honey, infused honey and honey sticks. The couple has also begun to sell online, and with the Christmas season, they have already had trouble keeping up with the demand for the honey.

“Last year Oscoda County bought approximately 10,000 pounds from Applebee Farm,” Kalie said. “Now that we are expanding, we know that we will need more bees to make more honey. So we plan to increase the number of hives we are operating.”

Kalie said she and her husband have been blown away by the support received from friends, family and the community.

“I'm not sure I can thank them enough for supporting us through the purchase of honey and cheering us on as we take on such a big ‘hobby,’” she said. “I would also say thank you to all the generous farmers who allow us to put hives on their property. It benefits us and also benefits all the farmland for miles around them. We really appreciate local people allowing us to do that. We are hoping to double the amount of hives we are operating over the next two to three years and we will be in need of more locations to keep our hives.”

Kalie and Jubal Handrich were also very thankful for their mentor and previous owner, Monk, who essentially retired but will stay on to assist the couple. Monk posted on the farm’s Facebook page Dec. 4 that he wished the couple all the best of luck following their purchase of Applebee Farm and he believed they had wonderful ideas that the community would benefit from.

“None of this would be possible without the help and mentorship of Richard Monk as we move forward,” Kalie said. “He is going to stay on as our employee. He loves the bees and wants to continue to work them for as long as he is able to.”

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