Dec. 16, 2021

Considering the Bee Culture December Issue (052)

Considering the Bee Culture December Issue (052)

The December, 2021 issue of Bee Culture magazine arrived this month. In this episode, Kim and Jim look at this special issue and discuss why it’s special every December. Starting right off, it’s the Interview issue, where the regular writers, and...

Dec IssueThe December, 2021 issue of Bee Culture magazine arrived this month. In this episode, Kim and Jim look at this special issue and discuss why it’s special every December.

Starting right off, it’s the Interview issue, where the regular writers, and some others, introduce the readers to industry people, friends in bees and beekeeping, or just someone they think their readers would like to get to know.

The issue includes the annual honey price report too, which shows honey prices for a couple dozen honey products (bulk, 1-lb., 2, 5-lb., comb and the rest), plus prices for beeswax and pollination for each or their seven regions across the country. Of course, that happens every month, but the December report shows those average prices for prior years so you can see what’s changing, and by how much. How much do you charge for a one-pound jar, retail? We’ll bet not enough. You can compare your prices with others in your region in this issue

Finally, for the last 30 some years, Kathy Summers has been making the Publications Department run as smooth as warm honey. Ordering supplies, managing inventories for the books, keeping track of the accounting part of the department, plus doing all of the layout and design for every issue. Kathy is stepping down at the end of this month for a well-deserved rest.

Imagine creating over 360 different magazines! That’s a lot of looking good, reading good and making it all work, work.

Thank you, Kathy!


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Honey Bee Obscura

Episode 52 – Considering The Bee Culture December Issue



Kim Flottum: Jim, did you get your December issue of Bee Culture yet?

Jim Tew: Actually, Kim, I did get it. I got it during Thanksgiving.

Kim: Wow. Okay. Have you had a chance to look at it much yet? I know it's been busy during this season.

Jim: No. That's exactly why I haven't really finished going through it, but I will. I will.

Kim: Yes. Well, there's some things I want to point out to you, so that when you do get to it, you'll turn there first and then you can go back to the rest. There's some really good stuff in here this this month.


Jim: Good.

Kim: Hi, I'm Kim Flottum.

Jim: I'm Jim Tew.

Kim: We're here today on Honey Bee Obscura. We're going to talk about the December issue of Bee Culture Magazine, because in our opinion, it's really special. I hope you're aware of how good it really is, how much information is in it, and things that aren't typically there, and things that are typically there that are looking even better this month.

Introduction: You are listening to Honey Bee Obscura brought to you by Growing Planet Media, the folks behind Beekeeping Today Podcast. Each week on Honey Bee Obscura, hosts, Kim Flottum and Jim Tew explore the complexities, the beauty, the fun, and the challenges of managing honeybees in today's world, in an engaging in informative discussion meant for all beekeepers, long timers, and those just starting their journey with bees. Sit back and enjoy the next several minutes, as Kim and Jim explore all things, honey bees.

Jim: That December issue is the bellwether issue for the year, isn't it? It has the interview issue in it. It's the last issue of the year. There's just all kind of things that December stands out and this is nicely done. It's a good-looking publication.

Kim: Yes, I think so. You mentioned the bellwether of the year and the interview issue. I started that with Bee Culture a bunch of years ago and it just gotten better, and bigger, and more popular every year. Editor Jerry has got some good people in here this year. The nice thing about this is, when I started it, we had our regular writers, you included. I encouraged you. I didn't force you, but I encouraged you to go out and introduce us to somebody that you knew that we didn't know.

We to know a lot of people that otherwise would've never gotten attention in the beekeeping world or very little attention in the beekeeping world, or only attention in the research part of the beekeeping world. They got a foot in the door with regular beekeepers, and we got a foot in the door with these people who are on the edge to peripheral part of bees and beekeeping. I think it's done everybody a lot of good.

Jim: You make it sound like you've got to be a rookie, or you got to be an unknown. There's a lot of people that have been listed through the years, who are heavyweight players in the bee industry. It's always interesting to read about them when they were not heavyweight, and as they came along and where they were, and what they did, and why they grew to become heavyweight. In many ways, the issue covers everybody. You can be someone starting out with a lot of potential, or you can be someone finishing up who has fulfilled their potential.

Kim: You take a look at this one, here's this month's issue. Here's two people that fit that last description really well. Drs. Jamie Ellis in Florida and Marla Spivak up in Minnesota. There's two - do I say giants in the industry - but they certainly are. We get a chance to see and hear them talk about things we normally wouldn't get to.

Jim: Those are prominent people in the industry, still very productive. I enjoy reading what they're doing because they're so diverse, and this is a good place to see that diversity come together, where it's all discussed at one time.

Kim: The other thing that comes up in the December issue is, we typically did, and we started this looking at our honey price list every month. We've got a whole slew of reporters out all over the US and every month they send us in the prices of the list of commodity products that we send them, and they send us back their prices, and we take their prices, and we take each region’s prices.

There are seven regions. We average for each region, and then that's what we publish. We take the December issue of 2021, and we couple it with the December issue of 2020. You, as a reader can take a look back and say, "Okay, this is what the industry has moved to and from the last year." If you take a look, the industry's moved some on price this year.

Jim: I'm on page 17, and it's neatly laid out. It's easy to follow. Honey prices are up, Kim. Is that good or bad? I don't have any honey to sell, because I didn't make much of a crop. A low crop is part of the reason honey crops prices are up.

Kim: Well, one of the reasons that they're up this year over last year has been our friend…. D. Heilman, I think you said…. mentioned the fact that there's a lot of honey sitting on ships off some coasts someplace waiting to get unloaded.

Jim: Right, yes.

Kim: There's a supply issue. There's also the inflation this year that has caused some issues for honey to go up. If you take a look at the price of honey this year at 55-gallon drum per pound, a light honey, 2.29 a pound.

Jim: Right. Got it.

Kim: You can't make a living on that as you're a commercial beekeeper, and our friend Brett Adee will tell you, to make a living in honey, the price of honey you're getting per pound on a 55-gallon drum has got to be about the same price as diesel fuel in the local gas station. That's up what? Over three now?

Jim: Right, it is.

Kim: Although the honey prices are up from a commercial beekeeper's point of view, you're still scratching.

Jim: I'm surprised to hear of that because you think, "Well, the number's got to be high," because there's no honey available right now, but even so the cost of producing and shipping, bottling is up too.

Kim: You take a look. Actually, we got three years of history here. We got 2019, the price, it was 2.09. In 2020, it was 2.18, and in 2021, it's up to 2.29. It's gone up 20 cents a pound in three years. Hamburger's gone up more than that in three years.

Jim: Everything's gone up more than that. That's right.

Kim: That's one of the values of the December issue is being able to compare and look at prices, and get a feel for what you might be able to be looking for the next year.


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Jim: Kim, do I read this correctly, that a pound of honey, and one pound glass for plastic is $8 and 63 cents. Was it $8?

Kim: One pound glass of plastic is $8.63.

Jim: That's where I was.

Kim: That's low. That's low. Farm market here in Medina running right about $10 up to $12 a pound, one pound.

Jim: That's what I was thinking.  That number seemed to be low. All your beekeepers who are listening and struggling with us, as we struggle, this is a common question. How much do I charge for my honey? In the past, I've always said, "Go to a local store, go to your farmer's market. See what the market will bear, see what others are charging," because it's not easy.

You basically charge as much as someone will pay. That number's always been a peculiar number to keep up with. This is a handy chart to have. It's handy to have it, to see historically where it's going, and to have some idea of what I should be charging for my honey. For those of us - and there's so many of us who enjoy producing honey and giving it away - you need to know that more and more, what you're giving is a significant gift, not what it used to be when honey was $1.15, $1.75 a pound. You're giving away a meaningful product now that's hard to get.

Kim: Like you said, that's one of the values of the December issue, and one of the reasons I like putting it together like that. I got just from a very selfish standpoint here, point out one of the things that's in this issue, this is Kathy Summers' last issue. She's going to retire at the end of December.

Jim: That's not selfish. That's frightening, Kim. There's a serious difference in being selfish about telling Kathy bye, and saying, "I'm frightened because Kathy is leaving." She's that person, Kim, behind the scenes who makes things happen. She's the person who doesn't get any real acknowledgement until it's time. It’s time, Kim, she's been there for how many years?

Kim: Just over 30.

Jim: That's sobering too. How old am I?

Kim: [laughs]

Jim: That sobering too. I guess those numbers do work, 30 years. Kim, I got to tell you, as a monthly contributor to Bee Culture, for all of those years, Kathy has been tolerant, and agreeable, and taken article drafts late from me, and had me resend pictures that were desperately snapped that she still managed to work in, and she still continued to speak to me after 30 years of putting her through this. That's a sobering point.

Kim: Just know that you weren't the only one. The other part of what she did there all those years is, she made the publications department in a multimillion-dollar A. I. Root Candle Company run just smooth. She took care of time sheets, and all of the business stuff of keeping that department running. When you needed supplies, you went to Kath, when you needed anything done, when you needed something from the warehouse, or the warehouse would bring something over, it went to Kath, and she took care of it. She made my job really easy. All I had to do was edit, and she took care of all the busy work, plus making the magazine look good every month.

Jim: Yes. Kim, we probably should say for the people who are brand-new to beekeeping, and who just have started, and are listening to us here today, who may not know that you were the editor since 1825 or whatever the date was, you were the editor of Bee Culture Magazine for how many years?

Kim: About 30.

Jim: That was longer than that. Well, that's right. You retired, so about 30 and about 30 for Kathy. You're a husband and wife team, you have been Bee Culture for 30 years, the two of you. I need to quickly say, there's other staff members there and they certainly do their job, but they're not retiring right now, I don't think so. This is the reason that Kathy has come to light, and since you've retired, what? Two years ago?

Kim: Me, yes.

Jim: That this is a transitional state that Bee Culture is going through, as Jerry Hayes and new people pick up the responsibility there. Jerry is the new editor.

Kim: We planned it that way. My time was up and I stepped back. I'm still helping out a little bit, and I'm always at the other end of the phone when you got a question that nobody's got an answer to, maybe I do, but it gave Jerry a couple of years break-in period with her still there, taking care of the busy part of running the publication, plus training. We've got two new people now that also left in the last year. Getting those people trained, getting Jerry trained, she's been busy the last two years, but there's light at the end of the tunnel now. She can see it from here.

Jim: Well, I'm glad she can see light at the end of the tunnel, but I hope that the truck continues to go once we're outside of the tunnel. I feel like Jerry is on board solid, you’ve got good people that have replaced Kathy. One of the things that this December issue personifies is Kathy's departure, your departure. It really is the end of three decades of the Flottums and Summers' operation of putting out a premier bee magazine in the country.

Kim, it has really increased in quality and stature during those 30 years, because I was there writing when it was newspaper-grade paper, and the publication when color photos were still a big deal anywhere except on the cover. You look at the magazine now, and it's okay if you put it beside any magazine on the rack at the bookstore, it stands out and holds its own.

Kim: I appreciate that. Thank you. We worked to get there. You're right, when we started, the first issue that I did had 48 pages, it was black and white. If you were to use the phrase "Church bulletin", I wouldn't have been too surprised.

Jim: [laughs] Well, it did accomplish the job of a church bulletin, didn't it? It's more than a church bulletin-- Well, I don't know, church bulletins have improved a lot too.

Kim: Yes, they have.

Jim: It's a nice-looking publication and we're going on and on about this. I'm struggling. I'm sappy here, because I have a good working relationship with you and Kathy, and it's just time to change that. Either it's time for me to quit that too, or I need just to work with Jerry closely - as I plan to - make that work out for the best for me and for him too.

Kim: It's been looking good so far, and he's got a good feel for the information that he wants to provide, how he wants it to look. It's not going to be the same, but it's as good or better.

Jim: Everything changes, doesn't it? Everything changes every time. Well, I will read the magazine. During the COVID times and as I have been retired more and more, and don't attend the meetings I used to, the bee magazines have become much more critical to me, so I will read every word of it. If you don't read bee magazines out there, listeners, I would suggest you do. It's a wealth of current information.

Kim: There's two. There's Bee Culture, which is published by the Root company, and then there is The American Bee Journal published by Dadant. I got to tell you, the person that I replaced at the Root company, the last talk he gave to the bee industry, one of the things that he said to a mixed group of people, commercial beekeepers, sideline and hobbyists, he said, "You should be getting both, because there's things ABJ does that we don't do, and vice versa. You can't know too much about bees and beekeeping."

Jim: No, you can't. I'll get them both. I get them both, I will just keep getting them both.

Kim: There you go.

Jim: All right. Well, I've enjoyed talking to you about this, Kim. I'm reluctant to say, let's close out because when we close out, this will be it for Kathy. This is kind of a public wave of goodbye, a formal goodbye. Last issue, Kathy. Good job, well done.

Kim: I couldn't have said it better. Good job, well done. Thank you.

Jim: Yes, thank you. Thank you for listening, and all the best to everybody out there. We hope you have a happy holiday season as it comes up here.

Kim: We've got a couple more before Christmas. I think we've got to get Christmas in here somehow next time. Okay, we'll see you next time.

Jim: Bye-bye.


[00:16:53] [END OF AUDIO]