Even before Darci Sanner started keeping bees, she spent three years reading everything she could get her hands on about honey bees.
Now, five years since she got her first hive, her enthusiasm for all things honey bee is undiminished.
If anything it has grown, and she is excited to share her knowledge with friends, neighbors, and her community in Pennsylvania.
Briefly describe your operation. I have been a sustainable beekeeper for the past 5 years and have been a Certified Naturally Grown apiary for the past 3 years. My current apiaries are located in Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands. Besides offering raw honey, I produce all natural beeswax & honey products, such as: traditional cold-processed soaps, lip balm, Wonder Balm, candles, and furniture polish. I also offer apitherapy, or bee venom therapy. I have "stung" over 85 willing and ready people within the last year and a half, who have had amazing results!
Does anyone else help? I am a solo act, except for when I do shows/festivals. I have a friend that helps me greatly and my Mom has helped too!
Do you have any other jobs? For the past 12 years, I owned a full time business and sold it this past April to go for full time bee farming. However, for the time being, I am working another full time job until the farm is self-sustaining. This gives me more time to focus on my bees and product producing.
Why did you get involved with CNG? Sustainability has always been a passion of mine! CNG is a perfect fit!!
How did you get into beekeeping? What made you want to start? I have always been a nature lover/tree hugger and I love reading about improving ourselves the world around us. The more I read about sustainability, the more I read about the honey bee, and the more intrigued I became. Honey bees are imperative to our food supply and to natural healthy living.
I think I was meant to be a beekeeper. I never dreamed of it when I was a little girl, but it is truly in my blood. About a year after I stared keeping bees, my Mom told me that her great-grandfather was a beekeeper. I had no idea until then!
What is unique or unusual about your apiary? My logo color is a bright gold, so I painted all of my supers the same color - you cannot miss the hives!
Most unusual tool: Sumac Fruit: I use it in my smoker when I need it. I have read that the smoke from the sumac fruit helps to deter the mites.
Favorite way to use wax: To make my signature product: Wonder Balm! A heal-all/cure-all head-to-toe balm.
Who is your mentor or hero in the beekeeping world or food movement? Darl Susko has been keeping bees for 20+ years. He is my mentor and I bought my first hive from him. I don't know what I would do without him; he is truly amazing!
What’s your most useful piece of clothing for working with your hives? The jacket/veil combo! Most beekeepers become more immune, but not me. My sensitivity to bee stings has gotten worse, so I need to stay suited up.
How do you include customers in your operation? I do educational tours and many craft shows and festivals. I always have an observation hive on hand and encourage the customers to find the queen. I also hand cut the soap, and encourage the customers to cut their own. They love being involved!
What are your plans or hopes for your operation? I just purchased a 33 acre farm (closed the deal this past April). With biodiversity and sustainability as the main focus, I plan to grow and expand my apiary, as well as diversify the farm with grass fed meat, free range eggs, produce, and more. I am in the process of developing beginner beekeeping classes, teaching CNG methods and encouraging new CNG members.
What do you think is the future of beekeeping in the United States? I think it will continue to be a struggle, especially with the prominence of Big Ag and GMO's. I am in farm country and CNG farming is still the minority! I hope to rub off a little on my new neighboring farmers.
In my opinion, varroa mite and nosema is not what is causing CCD. Its GMO's and pesiticidies, etc. GMO pollen is sterile, meaning it has no nutritional value. For a honey bee, that means malnutrition and a weakened immune system. It's just common sense. I am so glad to be a part of CNG and I hope that others that are not familiar with CNG with learn from their principles and values. The more we know, the more we can change and promote change!