Sam Comfort: Bee Man

 
 
 

Sam Comfort is a beekeeper like no other. “I was born in a bee hive” he says.

Under the banner of Anarchy Apiaries he works predominately across three geographically disparate states in America: Florida, Hawaii and New York. The huge variation in climate as well as the flowering trees and plants this represents provides Sam with vast experience of his craft as well as being able to work year-round, so far for twelve years.

Sam arrived at Little Ghent Farm one evening in May with a ‘top bar’ hive we had secured at an auction intended to raise money for our friends at Kite’s Nest, a children’s learning group in nearby Hudson. A box of bees arrived too. Twelve thousand bees, give or take one or two. It seemed like the perfect evening for bees; warm and still with golden light and the scent of a million flowers in the air.

We asked Sam a few questions about his thoughts and approaches to beekeeping.

 

There’s a lot of bad news recently, it seems, about bees. What’s Up?

Well, good news is boring ! Keeping bees healthy and away from systemically treated crops (such as some soy and corn)  is uninteresting (to most people) and won’t make any money for anyone (other than the beekeeper).

Realistically what can the small farmer/bee keeper like us do to protect the future for bees?

Plant acres of buckwheat so that it blooms in August. Plant Linden trees. Consider wildness for wildness’ sake. Support diversity of all kinds.

If there was only one flower or plant from which bees could produce honey which would you choose?

Dandelions.

How does the Hudson Valley compare with other areas you work in?

It’s always changing. The more I work with bees the less I seem to know.

What’s the most common question you get from new beekeepers?

“Are they gonna sting me?”

Any interesting or unusual habits you have when tending to the bees?

I am always singing to them although they don’t have ears. They are singing back although I am not always a good listener.

Do you have a beekeeping hero? 

Kirk Webster in Vermont and Dee Lusby in Arizona both run large treatment-free bee operations in very different ways. Expansion beekeeping or shotgun beekeeping. I draw on a bit of both.

Apart from bees is there something you always travel with?

A banjo ukelele. A good attitude.

 

There’s a little more about our bees here.

 

 

 

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