LAFAYETTE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Raymond Lowe, owner of Hiwire Honeybees Farm, will apply for a federal grant through Onondaga County to help sell more honey. For Hiwire Honeybees Farm, the pandemic has created more supply than demand due to farmer’s markets, fairs, and festivals being closed. Lowe has continued to harvest honey from his bees and sell to wholesale markets, but said he isn’t making enough to break even.
“I have an excess amount of honey in stock, which hopefully, eventually, I’ll be able to sell but in general my income has been lower since the pandemic,” said Lowe.
Lowe has been a beekeeper for 15 years and has been training other beekeepers in the Lafayette area to harvest and care for their honeybees. When the pandemic hit, Lowe said that he tried to keep money flowing into the farm by going to the CNY regional market every weekend since the pandemic started. The money Hiwire Honeybee Farm did generate went right back into the farm.
“Most of what I do is company-related, so whatever I would call income goes back into beekeeping anyways,” said Lowe.
Hiwire Honeybee Farm is also a part of the wholesale market where they sell large quantities for lower prices. When the pandemic shut down the economy, the wholesale markets stopped buying honey causing more honey to be stocked up. Lowe said they had to generate a plan to keep revenue coming in and not make too much honey.
“The plan this year was to sell more bees and reduce our honey output,” said Lowe. “We sold a lot of colonies this spring and we’re just finishing up our sales.”
The Onondaga County grant would help make operations and marketing smoother for Hiwire Honeybee Farm. Last year, Hiwire Honeybees Farm produced around 70,000 pounds of honey and Lowe has processed most of that by himself.
The equipment Lowe is currently using requires him to spend more time in the shop extracting and processing honey. Lowe said that the grant would help him get better equipment so he could spend more time with bees and customers.
“I have money that comes in, if I have excess money that comes in I would put it towards updating older equipment,” said Lowe.
The Empire Farm Day Fair is a place Lowe said he would be able to sell honey and provide instructional education on how to maintain bees and colonies. Lowe said the grant would also help him purchase a booth so he could sell more of his supply and generate income lost in 2020.
Small farms in Onondaga County can receive up to $15,000 in grant money and have till July 23 to apply.