Some Liquid Sunshine That Came Out Of A Terrible Year
It's clear that 2020 will go down as one of the worst years in recent memory for many reasons, but I'd like to share a few silver linings that brightened our year.
Our Customers. I'm not saying this to patronize or get overly sentimental... but the truth is that our customers 'showed up' for us this year, even if we couldn't show up anywhere in person. Not only did we see higher rates of returning customers, but we saw an increase in new customers as well. These were customers who were seeking out local small businesses to support rather than throwing their money at huge corporations. This is especially significant considering that our website was really the only way to shop with us for much of the year.
Our Bees & Honey Harvest. The 2020 season has ironically been one of our most productive honey-producing seasons since I got into beekeeping. A combination of factors came together to make this an unusually good year for our honey bees. I think the mix of good weather and less people interfering with public green spaces due to the lock-down this Spring and Summer was a big reason our bees made the most of 2020.
Better Beekeeping. Every year I learn new information and techniques in beekeeping. Some works, some doesn't. Every beekeeper experiments with different methods and when you're a new beekeeper it's really difficult to recognize what is worth it and what is a waste of time and resources. There's no substitute for experience and I can confidently say that helps shape my skills every year. In 2019 I began my Master Beekeeping Certification. This is a 1.5-year program that dives into bee biology, advanced beekeeping techniques, dealing with honey bee diseases, and much more. This program really helped me recognize where to focus my time and how to effectively promote the health of my hives, which made them stronger and up to the challenge of the season. I have to give a shoutout to the Dyce Lab for Honey Bee Studies at Cornell University for running this certification program. It's a great resource for beekeepers, even if you aren't getting certified.
Media Attention. I was honored this year to have a handful of articles written about myself as a beekeeper. The height of these was my feature in the New York Times column, Sunday Routine. It definitely helped get the apiary out in front of a larger audience at a time when we needed it.
Partnerships. We worked with more local businesses and organizations this year than any year before. Some were new wholesale customers and some, like Phoenix Bakehouse, teamed up with us to show how they use honey in their bread making. Another special partnership was with Aberfeldy and the Bee Informed Partnership. I was chosen as their feature NYC beekeeper and worked with them on the "Gardening Giveback Project" to bring attention to the connection between bees and what we eat and drink.
Finally, I cannot end this without a mention of The Connected Chef's Lifeline Grocery Packages. This is a local initiative to help provide free meals and food security for vulnerable families across Queens, NY during the pandemic. Toward the end of 2020, they expanded their program to include a weekly CSA box that can be purchased by the public on a sliding scale based on what you can afford. The CSA box helps support the original packages that they continue to deliver to struggling families. Our connection is that Astor Apiaries honey is an add-on item for the CSA box. We are very happy to be apart of this wonderful project that helps so many and would love for you to check them out if you're looking for more fresh fruits and vegetables in your life this year.
Last year was not the year we wanted or even deserved, but I hope the bad memories fade and we can remember the high points. You all have made it possible for us to build a small hobby into a business that I really enjoy getting up every day to do. Thank you to all of our current customers for your continued support and welcome to all of our new customers and followers for giving us a shot. We are here to serve you, so please don't hesitate to reach out!
Best wishes for a safe and healthy 2021!