A honey of a trip
Charlie Pesch is making a beeline to Texas. Pesch, the owner/operator of Big Dipper Honey in Minneota, took 40 colonies of honey bees (approximately 30,000-50,000 bees make up one colony) to Mt. Pleasant, Texas on Wednesday morning (March 11) to take advantage of the spring pollinating weather down there. He expects to return to Minneota in May when the bees can pollinate here.
"They are having spring there now, and the flowers have bloomed," he said.
"So I wanted to get an early jump and extend the honey-making season. I'm hoping to bring back around 80 colonies."
Pesch took over the operations from his father, J.D., who started the apiary as a hobby five years ago under the name 7P's Bees to reflect the seven members of the Pesch family -- J.D. and his wife Paula and their five children; Zach, Charlie, Henry, Teddy, and Ellie. Charlie wanted to take it a step further and build it into a honey-making business. He changed the name to Big Dipper Bee Company and designed a logo to be affixed to the labels of his products.
"One of the reasons I named it Big Dipper is because there are seven stars in that constellation, which pays homage to 7P's Bees," he stated. This will be his first trip out of state with his bees.
"I'm going down to Texas with an experienced beekeeper from Howard Lake," he said. "He's going to show me the ropes, and I, in turn, will work for him down there. I've never done this before, so I'm a little nervous, but mostly, I'm excited." The majority of the bees in the Pesch hives are European Honey Bees. Pesch, with the help of his brother Ted and his father, loaded the boxes of framed colonies onto a flatbed truck with netting placed over the top.
"I left early, because once the sun comes out the bees want to fly around," Charlie explained.
"So the netting keeps them from flying off." The trip to Mt. Pleasant is over 900 miles and will take over 15 hours of driving time. Pesch met up with the Howard Lake beekeeper on Wednesday morning and the two formed a small convoy to Texas.
Pesch harvested 1,500 pounds of honey last August in his first full year of operations, and was sold out by Christmas. He makes raw honey, creamed honey and honey sticks. He has also tried to produce creamed honey flavored with orange, pineapple, lemon, and cinnamon.
"I like to keep trying new recipes to see how they turn out," Pesch said. "Some of them are pretty good, and some not so good."
One man who purchased Pesch's raw honey at a farmer's market in Redwood Falls last summer said it was the best honey he had ever tasted. "I've bought a lot of honey over the years from various people who sell it," the man said.
"There is something about (Big Dipper) honey that was better than any I've had before. I was surprised when I found out that he had only been doing this a short while."
Pesch also sold his honey at the local farmer's market on Thursday evenings in Minneota, as well as in Marshall, Canby, and a few other locations. The Big Dipper name is getting increasingly popular as the word spreads.
"I'm hoping to harvest and sell three times more than I did last year," Pesch said. "I'm really enjoying this, and I feel like I'm learning something new every day."