On any given day, you’ll find Ron Abernathy tending to thousands of bees across his 50 hives in Bartonville.
“Just–you love it. You’re outside in nature and it’s your getaway time,” he said.
And with the right amount of care, each of his hives can produce anywhere between 30-125 pounds of honey.
Abernathy started beekeeping in 1999 to follow his love for nature and natural foods. He went on to become a bee inspector for the Department of Agriculture. In 2003, Abernathy launched his own business–Abernathy’s Honey.
The beekeeper says it’s a busy time of year as he prepares for the winter season.
“Right now it’s just basically pulling honey, making sure the pests aren’t a problem within the hive and you’ve got good laying queens. And then throughout the fall, just get them all prepped up and plenty of honey for them so they can make it through the winter,” he said.
Abernathy works alongside his wife, Nami to collect, process and sell honey and beeswax-based products across Central Illinois. Even their three-year old daughter Hanna helps out.
It’s a tasty job, but it’s also a tough one. Abernathy says he gets anywhere from 50-100 bee stings a week. But he says he doesn’t get scared.
“No not at all,” laughed Abernathy. “I’m more scared of mice.”
Abernathy says the trick is to respect the bees and the bees will respect you.