July 7, 2022

TORRINGTON — For Ed Bahr, beekeeping began as a pastime. Now, his former auto restore store on South Foremost Avenue has been remodeled right into a beekeeping retailer and workshop website.

Wholesome hives and correct care of bees are necessary to Bahr — and may matter to all of us.

“Each different factor that’s in your plate is due to the honeybee,” he mentioned.

When a good friend acquired sick, Ed and Kim Bahr took over Mike’s Beehives. Through the pandemic, they made the choice to shut Bahr Auto Restore at 1065 South Foremost St., which the couple ran collectively for many years, and deal with the beehive enterprise full-time.

“When the pandemic hit, my workers wished to remain dwelling and acquire unemployment, and that’s once I determined to essentially do that,” Ed Bahr mentioned. “I’ve been doing auto restore for in all probability 42 years, and I’ve been within the Torrington space for a very long time.”

The couple has now created a one-stop cease for beekeeper provides and customized beehives.

Bahr, who lives in Goshen, can also be following in his father’s footsteps. Francis Bahr was an avid beekeeper when he lived in Danbury, he mentioned.

“He lives in New Mexico now, he’s 86, and he’s nonetheless wholesome,” Ed Bahr mentioned. “He attributes that to being stung by bees; the venom is definitely serving to him keep wholesome.”

Bahr typically helped his dad along with his hives when he was youthful. Then, 12 years in the past, whereas attending the Connecticut Flower and Backyard Present in Hartford, he met Mike Rice, who owned Mike’s Beehives.

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“We turned mates,” Ed Bahr mentioned. “Mike ran his enterprise out of his home. For just a few years, I used to be serving to along with his bees … I constructed hives and bee bins.”

When Rice acquired most cancers, he requested Bahr to take over the enterprise, Bahr mentioned.

“And due to COVID-19, and shedding workers, I made a decision to open it right here,” he mentioned.

Bahr mentioned he had lots of assist from family and friends, in addition to Torrington veteran Edward Sutton.

Contained in the workshop

Within the entrance workplace, fashions of Bahr’s customized picket beehives are on show, in addition to his dad’s authentic “Bahr’s Honey Farm” signal. Items of wax from the hives, and mannequins modeling protecting beekeeping fits and headgear, could be discovered all through the shop.

Contained in the storage is a tidy area with extra shows and provides: fits and head coverings, glass honey jars, and Bahr’s handcrafted hives. A classroom space is about up within the far nook, the place bee workshopes are held. They’re typically well-attended, Kim Bahr mentioned.

“There are people who find themselves simply beginning out, and individuals who have been doing this for some time,” she mentioned. “To begin out, you get two hives, and construct from there.”

Behind the provision space and classroom, her husband mills the wooden for every hive from a big pile of logs stacked exterior the storage within the again, slicing items of wooden with dovetail joints of his personal design for the bins. The dovetail joints can assist preserve the hives from being destroyed by their primary predator — bears, Ed Bahr mentioned.

“The wooden joins collectively so once you pull on it, it doesn’t come aside. Often a bear can tear a hive aside fairly simply, however not as simply with these,” he mentioned. “It’s the strongest hive you will get.”

Within the storage, a mixture hen coop and two beehives are constructed as one unit, for somebody simply beginning out and wanting each.

“Since COVID-19, individuals have gone again to old style sorts of issues and are focused on bees, chickens, canning and gardening,” Bahr mentioned.

Increasing the enterprise

The couple is planning to construct an apiary on the property with extra beehives, and so they hope to rent extra workers because the enterprise continues to develop.

The truth is, the enterprise is extremely busy, and Bahr mentioned he works exhausting to maintain up with the demand. This week, he was driving to Georgia to choose up a provide of “bee packages,” every holding between 10,000 and 11,000 bees with a queen, which will probably be picked up by his prospects this weekend.

“I’ll drive down there, choose them up, flip round and are available dwelling,” he mentioned. “Folks will probably be ready in line to choose them up on Saturday.”

The Bahrs are the most important distributors of beekeeping provides within the space and mentioned they like the concept of providing a “actual” retailer for purchasers to go to, as a substitute of getting them order provides on-line. Clients come from Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts to buy.

“It’s good for them to have a brick-and-mortar place to purchase from,” Ed Bahr mentioned.

Retaining all the pieces native can also be necessary to the Bahrs.

“Every thing right here is American made, with American wooden and supplies,” he mentioned.

Defending bees

Many individuals are becoming a member of the beekeeping motion as a result of they’re involved in regards to the drop in honeybee populations the world over.

Bahr mentioned preserving bees wholesome is necessary. He additionally admires the entire technique of bees and the work they do.

“Every thing performed within the hive is at nighttime,” he mentioned. “The employees all have jobs; there are sentries, and drones, and bees that act as janitors to maintain issues clear. If individuals had been as organized as bees are, we wouldn’t have any issues on the earth.”

Good friend and documentary filmmaker Harvey Hubbell of Litchfield has bees, and plans to movie the method of beeekeeping, Ed Bahr mentioned.

He’s additionally serving to his good friend Mike Rice, who acquired him within the first place.

“After I referred to as him and mentioned I wished to do that, he mentioned I made his dream come true,” he mentioned. “He’s the rationale this all began.”

Kim Bahr mentioned Mike’s Beehives has modified her husband’s outlook for the higher.

“When he was working the auto restore, it was nerve-racking — he’s comfortable now,” she mentioned. “And he’s very obsessed with it.”

Mike’s Beehives could be reached by calling 860-605-0023, or emailing [email protected]; or go to Fb.com/MikesBeehives.