Originally published September 21, 2020
NOTE: This interview is filled with terrible bee puns. I apologize for nothing.
Honey runs through Erica Moore’s blood. From a legacy crawling with honeybees, Erica established Sadie Lady’s Honey.
“My maternal great grandfather acquired his first beehive in 1905, when he was five years old . . . I remember my great grandmother's house in Southington, OH, and her breezeway where she sold the honey and the big extracting house in her backyard. Beekeeping became the ‘family business’ in a way,” she explains.
“My grandmother's brother became involved with the bees commercially . . . My mom's brothers also were involved with beekeeping—I remember watching my uncle extract his hives at my great grandmother's extracting house in Southington when I was in elementary school.”
In 2017, Erica became interested in beekeeping, investing in four hives of her own. After her uncle died, she bought his remaining hives and equipment, suddenly leaving Erica with more honey and hive products than she had expected. So, Erica formed her LLC and created Sadie Lady’s Honey.
BEE FACT: Honey never expires! It will crystallize, but it will return to its normal consistency when heated.
What exactly does owning an apiary, or a group of beehives, look like? You might say that it keeps Erica busy as a…well, you know.
“April is about the time of year new beekeepers in Northeast Ohio get their bee colonies. These are usually a ‘nuc’, short for ‘nucleus,’ which usually consists of five frames of drawn comb with brood, honey, pollen, and bees. The queen bee is already accepted. Or, some might opt for a ‘package,’ which usually consists of three pounds of bees and a queen in a separate cage. . .
“Hives are inspected every 7-10 days, though I may go a couple weeks between inspections. You're looking for signs of mites(1), small hive beetles(2), swarm cells(3), supersedure cells(4), etc. I make sure all of my hives have a minimum of two ‘deep’ brood boxes filled with honey and brood before I start adding honey supers, usually around May or June. This year I extracted honey at the beginning of July, the end of July, and am planning another honey extraction probably in September. The honey is then bottled a few days after extracting.
(1) Mites are bad and can cause the hive to collapse.
(2) Tiny band of insects that cause damage to comb, pollen, and honey. Why can’t they let it bee?
(3) Sign the colony is healthy enough to reproduce and that they know about the birds and the...well, you know.
(4) Drama! Did you hear the buzz? These cells indicate that the queen bee is getting replaced!
“In late fall, I will do another mite treatment of oxalic acid vaporization, this time when the hives lack brood. In order to prep my hives for the winter, I wrap them in insulation, put mouse guards on the front entrances, put a candy board on top for extra feed if they need it, and put a quilt box on top to assist in capturing condensation.
“In early spring, while the hive is still broodless, I will do another touch-up oxalic acid treatment. The quilt boxes and candy boards are checked on warmer winter days to make sure they are dry and that they don't need extra food. In the spring, I also set out a feeder of pollen substitute so they can get a head start on brood rearing. Usually in the fall and around Christmas is when I will set up my table at area craft shows to sell my honey and hive products.”
BEE FACT: A hive (or colony) is made up of approximately 60,000 bees in the summer.
Local beekeepers like Erica can also lend a helping hand, should you ever find a swarm of bees on your property.
“The Ohio State Beekeepers Association maintains a webpage with a swarm callout list, showing available beekeepers by county. A local beekeeper/pest control company also has referred swarm calls they’ve received to me,” Erica explained. “It's great to contact a beekeeper to relocate a swarm; otherwise the bees may move into an undesirable location like the eaves of a person's house.”
BEE FACT: Drones do not have stingers; worker bees do, but will die when they sting you because their entire abdomen will rip off, along with the barbed stinger. Only the queen bee can sting multiple times, because she is a badass.
If you don’t have over 100 years of family beekeeping experience, don’t get a bee in your bonnet. Erica has the buzz to help get you started.
“For someone interested in learning beekeeping, it is highly advisable to join a local beekeeping club and find a mentor. There are many great Facebook groups to join, but actually getting hands on experience in a bee yard is the best learning,” she notes.
“One of the best books I read was called Beekeeping for Dummies. I also watched many YouTube videos and attended several beekeeping conferences in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I've also attended bee club meetings and classes throughout Northeast Ohio to learn about a variety of topics, such as sustainable beekeeping and queen rearing.”
Our Queen Bee also emphasized that there isn’t just one correct method to run an apiary.
“I spent money unnecessarily on things I thought I would need, but then through trial and error I found different or better ways to do things. The joke is if you ask 10 beekeepers a question, you will get 12 different answers. Everyone does stuff differently.
“You just need to follow your passion and your interests and hobbies. It was never my intention to start a business—my intention was to get a couple hives of bees. But then those couple hives of bees flourished. And before I knew it, I had all this product to sell that I wanted to be legally shown on my tax returns.”
BEE FACT: Bees cannot see the color red. They are able to see ultraviolet that humans cannot, however, so don’t feel too smug.
If, like me, you were wondering if being in close proximity to her product has resulted in honey losing its appeal for Erica, she will assure you that she is still sweet on it.
“I try honey from all over the country and the world (if I can find it). Honey tasting is a bit like wine tasting. Sure, it's all going to taste like wine, or it's all going to taste like honey. But there are so many different flavor nuances. You'll never be able to find that in the ultra-filtered corn syrup they have set out on the tables at your chain breakfast restaurant or in your big box stores. Of course, I can't resist trying my own honey and will usually save at least a bottle from each of my harvests.”
BEE FACT: All worker bees are female.
Where did the name Sadie Lady’s Honey come from? The namesake of the LLC befriended Erica 16 years ago in Orlando, Florida, and they have been close ever since; also, she is a cat.
BEE FACT: Sadie Lady’s Honey is available to purchase at https://www.facebook.com/SadieLadysHoney/
Erica concludes, “It's such a weird thought to be able to manipulate 10,000 bugs and get them all to go into this little box and put them in the back of your car. Plus, to be able to have them pollinate all these crops for our eating is always a great benefit!”
Erica graduated from Youngstown State University with a bachelor’s degree in computer programming and from the University of Central Florida with a master’s degree in computer forensics. Erica works full time in the field of computer forensics. Besides beekeeping, Erica also enjoys spending time with her family and pets, performing clarinet in the Youngstown Area Community Concert Band, playing in the Youngstown kickball league, and is an avid traveler.
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Dr. Jessica Paull is a doctor, but cannot help with that rash--please see your regular medical provider. Her degree is in sociology, with a focus on inequality, which she uses to analyze pop culture or anything within a 10-foot radius. Jessica’s happy place is filled with coffee, puppies, and vintage dresses. She hopes to leave the world slightly better than she found it.