In the bee business

CLEMONS – Dale Fields said he has been stung so many times by bees they almost have become like mosquito bites to him.

It’s all a part of the job when you are a honey producer.

Fields, and his partner in life and business, Eli Kalke, have run Fieldstone Farms just east of Clemons for the past five years. It started with 11 hives, and now they have 40 on site and 200 hives in the area.

Kalke is not quite as lucky when it comes to stings because she swells up.

“It’s one of the hazards of the job,” she said.

Both got started in the business after taking a beekeeping class at North Iowa Area Community College.

“It was really beekeeping that brought us together,” Kalke said.

A hive typically produces about 50 to 60 pounds of honey each year, and harvest season is July through September.

They have learned that running a business involves much more than dealing with the bees. They are involved in all aspects including the bottling and selling of the honey.

“You’ve got to be a master of many arts – marketing, sales and nature,” Kalke said.

Fields said the challenge of building a business is also one of the enjoyable aspects, especially as it continues to grow. Through the years they have learned much about honey making and bees.

They know if it’s cloudy out, bees tend to be in a bad mood and are more prone to sting. A sunny day, much like humans, puts bees in a better disposition.

“Their temperament is definitely weather related,” Fields said.

For bees, the key is to have the queen in place so the worker bees do the job of making the honey. Fieldstone has their queens shipped to them at a cost of $20 each.

The result is a honey product they are both proud to sell. They said they also enjoy helping teach customers about honey production.

“We’ve had some very good response out of it,” Fields said of the taste of the product.

The farm, located at 1445 165th St. just east of Clemons, will host an Iowa Honey Producers event from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on June 15. It is open to the public and will give insight into beekeeping.

Their honey is available at several area farmers markets, Hy-Vee in Marshalltown and Eldora and Market Off Main in Albion. They also send their honey all around the country.

For more information call the farm at 641-477-8521.