Hofer Honey

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

This is the first in a series about interesting things that retired people in Eudora are doing. While there won’t be a segment every week, you’ll see one every so often.

Those of you who grew up in Eudora or raised your children here probably know Dale and Vicky Hofer as school teachers. Vicky taught 3rd grade in the Eudora school district for 32 years and then mentored new teachers for another five. Dale was the woodworking instructor for junior and senior high students for 30 years. They both retired in 2005. But now the couple has a new title: beekeepers.

Dale became interested in bees nearly 40 years ago but didn’t have more than a couple of hives until retirement freed up his time. Now raising bees and producing honey has become a passion that Dale and Vicky share, and is a project that even involves their family and some friends. Their son Nate designed the “Hofer Honey” label for the jars and the website. Their grandkids love participating in the honey-producing process. In fact, the Hofers hold an annual “Honey Day” at their rural Eudora home with all kinds of learning activities for the grandchildren, as well as an opportunity for them to participate in the extraction process.

Both Dale and Vicky agree that “Honey Day” is the best part of beekeeping as it’s a time to celebrate the hard work that goes in to producing honey all year. Throughout the day Vicky keeps hot biscuits coming out of the oven, the perfect complement to fresh honey. (Is your mouth watering yet?) It’s a day of fun and hard work.

As you can probably guess, getting bee stings is the least enjoyable part of the job, but it goes with the territory. Moving a hive in the spring can be especially treacherous because if you make a wrong move you can have a bunch of angry bees after you. Even though they wear special suits when working with the bees, they still occasionally get stung. When I asked Dale how many stings he had had over the years, he said with a laugh, “I’ve had several.”

The bee suits that are worn during the harvest in late August are very hot, and the heat of the day is the best time to extract honey because most of the bees are away from the hive. Vicky said that you can’t even take a sip of water to cool off because of all the gear. That might be the second least enjoyable part of the job.

Bee suit

Dale Hofer in his protective bee suit

The last two years of drought had made for a small harvest, and last year, much to their grandkids’ dismay, they even had to cancel “Honey Day.” But this year the Hofers produced about 400 pounds of beautiful and delicious golden honey from their twelve hives. Besides regular honey, they also make Creamed Cinnamon Honey, perhaps an even tastier topping to hot biscuits.

“For us, it’s just a hobby,” Dale said summing up their beekeeping experience.  “It’s a learning experience every day,” Vicky added.  It’s also something they enjoy doing together during their retirement years.

For more information about Hofer Honey or how to purchase it, you can email Dale and Vicky at hoferreed@hotmail.com.

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