Chester County Honey
Our story begins a long time ago. Jim Mc Ree (me, our beekeeper) was born in a typical middle class suburban family that always had a vegetable garden. Jim learned to appreciate the garden and always planted something, somewhere to have a garden in almost every place he lived - even on properties that weren't well suited to gardening. Gardening was important to Jim.
One of Jim's friends introduced him to beekeeping in 2010. Jim's friend was new to beekeeping, was learning the craft, and was very excited. Jim's friend is Carmen Battavio who currently owns and operates Carmen B's Honey with about 20 hives in the area. Carmen was very generous and shared his knowledge and experience with Jim in such a way that Jim came to appreciate not only the value of bees for pollination, but also their value simply as bees. The seeds for a new beekeeper were planted.
Jim is a member of East Goshen Township's Planning Commission. He was given the assignment of recommending to the Planning Commission what the township should to regarding regulating bees as a result of some ambiguity in the township's ordinance. This could not have been a more perfect assignment at a perfect time. Jim researched bees, beekeeping, honey production, and all similar topics for about 6 months in depth and presented his recommendation to the Planning Commission. The commission adopted the recommendation (no regulation needed). Jim was flush with textbook knowledge of beekeeping and great local beekeeper relationships and on the verge of wanting to be a beekeeper himself.
Jim and his family moved to the Bow Tree development in West Chester in 2011 and acquired something they had always wanted: a flat, sunny property that was perfect for gardening. Jim established a fruit and vegetable garden, but noticed the blossoms seemed to last a very long time. That's when Jim noticed that there seemed to be very few bees around, especially for a property that was loaded with fruit, vegetable, and other flower blossoms. That's when Jim's beekeeping knowledge completely clicked!
The Bow Tree development is almost 400 homes on approximately 1/2 acre lots. It is surrounded by similar developments and commercial zones beyond them. Jim realized there was simply no nearby location for honey bees to live because the "wild" environment was simply gone. It was suburbanized. What do typical suburbanites and commercial businesses do when they see bees? Spray them! No wonder there weren't any bees around. Now, the plight of the bees, the dramatically dropping bee populations, the difficulty beekeepers are experiencing with pesticides and genetically modified crops, and the reasons farmers need to import bees to their farms was crystal clear to Jim and clearly present in his own backyard.
Jim is getting started with active beekeeping in 2012 in the form of Chester County Honey. Jim used 2012 to establish his plans; order bees, hives, and other beekeeping materials; and setup the initial version of this web site. He also obtained locally made honey from another beekeeper in Chester County, Pennsylvania maple syrup from a family farm in northwestern PA, and entered the business of marketing healthy and natural alternatives to processed sugar. The Chester County Honey bees will arrive in Chester and Delaware counties in May 2013 and will be producing extra honey for the area's consumption in the 2014 crop. Until then, Chester County Honey will help other beekeepers and maple syrup farmers reach an ever growing customer base who simply must have the best honey available.
Jim is married to his wonderful wife Holly for almost 20 years. Holly and Jim have two twin children, Caroline and Patrick, born in 2009. Holly helps Jim with various aspects of the business, including product recommendations, sale event connections, and electronic recommendations for the web site and online marketing. Caroline loves the honey. Patrick has not yet acquired the taste.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story. We hope that it inspires you to try some of our locally produced Chester County honey and Pennsylvania maple syrup, and to think more frequently about how we all can be better stewards of the environment.