Brookfield Farm is pleased to bring you Blackberry / Wildflower Honey from
Timberline Bees : Granite Falls
The honeybees from Jay Smith’s hives (Timberline Bees) have combined raw honeys from blackberries and native lowland wildflowers to crate a delightful mélange of full-bodied, yet complex, raw honey.
Himalayan and Evergreen blackberries are the primary flower in this raw honey.
These now abundant plants were brought to Washington as a field crop. Birds and mammals discovered the large juicy fruit and carried the berries’ seeds throughout the area. Today the vines are found in fields along watercourses, and are now considered the most invasive species in the state. The bees have no troubles navigating the large thickets of thorny vines that produce large juicy berries, after honeybees and native pollinators have worked their flowers.
Jay runs over 100 hives near Granite Falls. He collects both honey and pollen from his hives that fly from his naturally treated hives. The hives stay in a series of bee yards and are not moved for pollination. Jay points out that to run his operation he depends on “queens that are good for the area. I get Italians and New World Carniolan, when I buy, but I graft and raise my own queens too.”
Jay has been keeping bees for over a decade. Before that he worked in logging for over 30 years. It was logging that brought him to beekeeping.
“I was cutting an oversized timber outside of Monroe,” he says. (Oversized timber are trees that are often hollow and fill with water). “I felt something on my legs and realized it wasn’t water. It was bees. I dropped the tree to the ground and I ran like hell…You were supposed to run from bees, right?”
It turned out that the hollow tree was filled with honey as well as bees, who soon departed for a better home. Once the bees were gone, Jay returned to the tree periodically and collected a bit of honey. “One day I just took all the honey out,” he explains.
“So, I thought, bees, honey, that’s a good idea and bought two Buckfast hives. They were the meanest hives I’ve ever had.”
They were mean bees, but Jay had a honey harvest. “I’d done a year a beekeeper, and I knew it all,” he grins. “So I went to California the next year and bought 75 hives. I lost so many bees. I didn’t have a clue.”
Admitting that he needed some help he turned to local beekeeper Ron Babcock. “I listened to Ron. He was as a great source of inspiration and knowledge.” Ron sadly passed away, in 2015.
Today Jay’s hives, many headed by his own home-raised queens, are thriving, but he is quick to point out that beekeeping is never easy. “Every year there’s a new challenge. I have to change something every year. If you can’t change you can’t be in this business.”
That pleasure of confronting that challenge and discovering new solutions is one of the reasons Jay enjoys beekeeping. He sites other benefits as well: “…being out in the woods, being my own boss, working my own time schedule, to work with nature, I enjoy all of that.”