Tom Pantera/Johnson Publications photo

 

Brian Wright, above, of rural Hamlet has been a beekeeper since the age of 13. Right, one of the many frames that provide a home for bees in Wright’s hives.

Rural Hamlet man’s bees help California almond farms

If years of experience mean anything, Brian Wright has earned the right to call himself a “bee bum.”
    After all, Wright, 66, of rural Hamlet, has been a beekeeper since he was 13.
    When he started, he was living in northern California.
    “That was probably the best part of my life,” he said. “I didn’t eat ribeyes, but there was always beans and bread.”
    Two years later, he moved to Alberta, Canada, to work with a number of beekeeping operations there and learn the business. After four or five years in Canada, he returned to California.
    He was a sort of itinerant beekeeper for much of his life, along the way spending two years in the military, marrying and having four children.
    He continued to keep bees but, he said, at 40 he decided he’d had enough of California and bought 1,600 acres near Hamlet. He farmed until 2005, with beekeeping part of that. Now, he has a day job as a mail carrier in addition to working with the bees.
    In his younger days, he thought he’d end up as a farmer, but the entry cost was a bit too much to bite off.
    “With bees, if you have $300 in your pocket, you can go to a sawmill and buy lumber and build more hives,” Wright said. “You could grow it.”
    While most people may picture a beekeeper as largely making honey money, that’s actually a minority of Wright’s business.

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