Farming for the past 28 years, Andre & Kathy Soetemans have done it all- growing corn, soybeans, and wheat, raising pigs, and, as of 6 years ago, beekeeping. Interested in trying new things, Andre decided to see if he liked beekeeping. He contacted a local beekeeper with the intention of buying 2 starting hives, just to try it out. The elderly beekeeper gave him a counteroffer- he wanted to sell his business, and would mentor Andre if he agreed to take over the operation. Never one to back down from a challenge, Andre and Kathy took the risk and agreed- something about the business just felt right.
“Basically we fell in love with the bees and the business, so we worked really long hours to make it work.” Kathy says. They began to sell their own honey at local retail locations, drawing the interest of customers with the fact that all their honey is 100% their own- when a customer buys Honey-Do Honey, they’re getting a product they know is 100% local.
The Soetemans currently have 500 hives, all within a 15km radius of their farmstead. They place the hives across various locations, on the properties of bee friendly farmers who wish to benefit from having the hard working bees in their fields. Each location gets 25-30 hives, and a full workforce of bees. The Soetemans plans to add even more hives when their son, Tyler, joins the business after finishing up at university.
So after 6 years, how do the Soetemans feel about beekeeping? Kathy said it best- “The best part of the business is working with the bees early in the spring. It is so rewarding to be opening up a hive after the winter seeing the bees have survived and watching them grow through the season. All the hard work seems to be worth it. The fresh air and the natural beauty of the bee yards are a very relaxing and rewarding experience. So I guess you can say we both love our jobs. How many people can say that these days?”
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