Have you heard the Buzz?
By Brandon Romagnoli
How one man turned his beekeeping hobby into a thriving business.
The year was 2014. Nick Hoe y and his wife Ashley had purchased a home in Astoria. The new home came with a front yard and a rooftop space leaving the couple to brainstorm ways to maximize the space. A friend of Nick’s also purchased a home nearby, and they came up with ideas. Maybe a vegetable garden or an outdoor patio? But those options didn’t stick. Then they came across beekeeping. What started as a hobby between friends became a life-changing career move.
“Through our conversations, we came across bees and didn’t know much about beekeeping,” said Hoefly. “As we learned more, we decided to invest in hive setups. And by 2016, we had bees on my roof. I never expected this to become my new career, but beekeeping took o the more I learned.”
Once Nick made the investment, he began learning as much as possible about beekeeping through online research, reading books, and taking beekeeping courses hosted in New York City. As he gained knowledge and began to grow his beekeeping hobby, the costs became greater than expected. That’s when Nick and his wife decided to create Astor Apiaries.
“Astor Apiaries started as a way to nance the hobby,” explained Hoefly. “I added a third hive and collected 40 pounds of honey in my first year. People I sold to started talking and by Halloween, I sold out of honey.”
Since then, Astor Apiaries expanded to selling nine different types of honey from all over the country, including Orange Blossom from Florida and Clover Honey from South Dakota. While the business started with selling honey, Nick expanded to hive tours and teaching beekeeping courses for beginners. He also provides mentorship to local beekeepers. The mentorship provides one-on-one coaching where Hoefly checks on the health of client’s beehives and helps them avoid the costly mistakes that beginners can make. Mistakes that were part of the learning process in Hoefly’s own first year as a beekeeper.
“There’s so much information to learn as a beginner,” said Hoe y. “I help one-on-one to build-up beekeepers’ confidence because everything seems terrifying when you first start.”
One common fear of beekeeping is of course getting stung. Hoefly avoided bee stings in the first four months of managing hives on his roof. While getting stung comes with the territory, Hoefly says if you’re gentle with the bees you won’t have to worry about it.
Currently, Hoefly has seven hives on the roof of his Astoria home, and says you would never know the bees are even there. You can purchase honey and learn more about beekeeping by reading his blog at Astorapiaries.com.