The busy life of being a beekeeper

If you think running a business is hard, try running one where the workers are fiercely independent and come and go as they like.

The main forewoman treats herself like royalty and sexism is rampant. Once the male workers under her finish their work, they’re expendable and done away with.

Such is the life of Lachine’s Luke Dreyer and his beekeeping business, Pour Boys Honey. A regular at The Alpena News’ Business Expo for many years, I have known Dreyer for a long time and always thought the “buzz” surrounding him was pretty good. He’s a good guy with a solid head on his shoulders.

Last Saturday his business was featured on our Northern Lifestyles front page and I found his explanation about raising bees both interesting and informative. To the casual observer it might seem as if the life of a beekeeper would be rather mundane but really, just the opposite is true. It was amazing for me to read about all the various problems that could arise during a season if things go wrong at the hive. Having good food and water sources, temperature, climate and disease all play into whether a season turns out productive or not.

Very quickly a season can turn from “feast to famine” based on the stress of the hive. In ideal conditions Dreyer would keep all the variables that could affect his hives minimal and thus, keep the hive’s bees happy. He would not disturb the hives very much, reducing the stress levels of the bees.

Stressed bees are unproductive bees, and ultimately can destroy a hive. In fact, stress from diseases have been a constant problem with Michigan beekeepers the past several years and this summer was no different for Dreyer.

Yet despite the problems Dreyer enjoys his work, finds it rewarding, and has made a living from it. Pour Boys Honey is distributed at 18 stores around northern Michigan and Dreyer always is experimenting with new flavors and products to showcase his honey.

Dreyer is the perfect example of what the face of Northeast Michigan entrepreneurship looks like. When I talk with Luke I am confident that the next generation of regional leaders are ready and able to tackle the problems they face. I have confidence that as Baby Boomers like me retire, a new generation is able and ready to take our place.

The bees have taught Dreyer patience and perseverance.

I’d say those are two qualities we all could benefit from as well.

Bill Speer can be reached via email at bspeer@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 331. Follow Bill on Twitter @billspeer13.