Worker Bees

Duane and Wanda Waid of Waid's Honey in Interlaken.

INTERLAKEN – Buzzing with excitement, the Interlaken and Ovid libraries prepare for the upcoming beekeeping classes taught by Ovid resident Duane Waid. On Monday, March 17 there will be an introductory beekeeping class at the Interlaken Public Library from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. preceded by an intermediate beekeeping class on Thursday, April 3 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Owners and operators of Waid’s Honey located in Interlaken, Duane and Wanda Waid and family have been in the honey-making business since 1976. Before beekeeping, they were the owners of the Interlaken Review, Ovid Gazette and Trumansburg Free Press printing press in Interlaken, which, as Duane noted, published the work of internationally known beekeeper Richard Taylor.

After reading Taylor’s books, Waid became fascinated with the beekeeping world and began experimenting. In 1975, the Waids sold the printing press to Paul and Jean Dickinson and one year later began selling honey at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market.

For the first 10 years of Waid’s Honey operations, Waid made beeswax products and honeycomb out of a woodworking building and trailer next to the printing press building. When the Trumansburg Free Press moved out, Waid bought the building and moved Waid’s Honey operations back in.

“We sell everywhere now," he said. "Sauders Store in Seneca Falls carries our honey as well as several of the local road side stands, the Trumansburg Farmers’ Market, the Trumansburg ShurSave, Big M. In the summer, several local wineries stock us and P&C Fresh on the East Hill Plaza" in Ithaca.

In fact, business has been so good that Waid's Honey has become a family affair. His son, Craig Waid, now sells the family honey at the Sunday Farmers’ Markets in Ithaca. He also builds frames for the beehives. Duane Waid’s daughter Roxanne Ferris, who created the product labels, also makes beeswax candles. His grandson helped out with marketing. Wanda Waid is the bookkeeper and maintains the honey stand in Interlaken. 

“It’s addictive when you get into it,” Craig said. “You can never learn everything you need to about [bees]. It’s always changing – especially with diseases – and we’ve also been looking into different types of hives.” 

In recent years, due to Colony Collapse Disorder, CCD, the honeybee population has been in decline. CCD is when worker bees abruptly disappear from the hive. The National Agricultural Statistics Service found that New York State honey stocks on hand as of Dec. 15, 2012 totaled 1.01 million pounds, a drop from 1.24 million pounds a year earlier. Several beekeepers believe the source of CCD to be linked to the widespread use of pesticides by industrial farmers.

“It used to be I was disappointed if I lost 10 percent of my hive," Duane said. "Two years ago when it was a warm winter, I only lost 15 percent. Recently, I have been right about the national average of 30 percent loss.

"You know what Einstein said? If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.”

Yet this downsizing in bees has not held off the demand for Waid’s Honey. Duane and other beekeepers across the nation have been importing bees from Florida and other warm climates.

“When they come in the mail, some outside bees attach to the package and people have been scared by this in the past because they think bees escaped from their cage," he said. "Really the bees from outside just decided to hitch a ride.”

As he springs into action for the bee season, Duane is excited to share his experiences with local residents and neighbors. For more information on this and other classes occurring at the Lodi and Interlaken libraries check out their websites at lodilibrary.net and interlakenpubliclibrary.org. •

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