A million pounds of honey. Produced by a billion bees!
This memoir reconstructs the life of a young man from Pennsylvania as he drops into the bald prairie badlands of southern Saskatchewan. He buys a honey ranch and keeps the bees that make the honey. But he also spends winters in Florida swamps, nurse-maid to ten thousand dainty queen bees.
From the dusty Canadian prairie to the thick palmetto swamps of the American south, the reader meets with simple folks who shape the protagonist's character - including a Cree rancher with three sons playing NHL hockey, a Hutterite preacher who yearns to roam the globe, a reclusive bee-eating homesteader, and a grey-headed widow who grows grapefruit, plays a nasty game of scrabble, and lives with four vicious dogs.
Encompassing a ten-year period, this true story evolves from the earnest inexperience of the young man as he learns an art and builds a business. Carefully researched natural biology runs counterpoint to human social activities. Bee craft serves as the setting for expositions that contrast American and Canadian lifestyles, while exemplifying the harsh reality of a man working with and against the physical environment.
Ron Miksha had 2,000 hives of bees twenty years ago. He produced over a million pounds of honey in Saskatchewan and sold thousands of queen bees in Florida, one of only a handful of people to have kept bees in both countries, hauling hives thousands of miles every year. Ron's interest in beekeeping stretches back to his childhood and his family's farm in the eastern USA. As a teenager, he was the youngest apiary inspector for the state of Pennsylvania. Ron kept bees there, but soon moved his hives to Florida, where he raised queens to sell to other beekeepers. A chance meeting led him to Val Marie - a desolate, windy prairie town in Saskatchewan, Canada, where he bought a small honey farm and expanded it into a large business. He produced queens in Florida during the winter and extracted honey in Saskatchewan during the summer. The adventure lasted ten years. Then a series of hot dry summers, small crops, and low prices convinced Ron to sell the farm and retire - at age 32!
After his beekeeping career ended, Ron decided to try university. He chose Earth Sciences as his second career, won seventeen excellence scholarships at the University of Saskatchewan and graduated with honours in Geophysics. Now Ron Miksha is president of a seismic geoscience company. Ron is a father, a scientist, a member of Mensa, and a licensed engineer.
Ron still keeps bees - as a hobby. His fifteen hives are on a grassy meadow in the Rocky Mountain foothills near his home in Calgary. Today, Ron is president of the Calgary Beekeepers' Association. A well-known and controversial figure in the beekeeping industry, Ron Miksha writes extensively for bee journals around the world. Bad Beekeeping is his first book.
Ron can be reached through his website www.badbeekeeping.com.