HomeHow ToStromme Honey teaches 4-H members how to make beeswax candles – Agweek
Stromme Honey teaches 4-H members how to make beeswax candles – Agweek
September 23, 2022
Nick Stromme attended his very first 4-H meeting on September 11, 2022 – at the age of 45.
Stromme, from rural Hatton, North Dakota, attended our first club meeting of the new 4-H year, and the experience changed his preconception that 4-H was for kids. who wanted or raised livestock.
Stromme works as a beekeeper in his hometown of Kloten, where his father started beekeeping in 1979 and his parents raised their family of four from the mid-1970s. Nick took the time to educate, demonstrate and share his passion for beekeeping, honey and taught our 4-H members ages 8-16 how to make beeswax candles. Cloverbuds, ages 5-7, painted bee boxes.
I followed up with Nick with additional questions about his family business, chosen profession, and his observations of the 4-H meeting.
“I think keeping kids involved in activities other than sports gives them more responsibility and confidence. And after attending the meeting, my first 4-H experience is about more than raising animals. The meeting went very well with the vote to elect the leaders of the group and it was fun to see. These kids learn to participate in a group with respect and having fun at the same time,” Stromme said.
“I grew up with beekeeping on mostly 400-500 hives. My brother, Zach, and I used to help grow the bees. Helping to harvest the honey and getting the hives ready for winter are some of the main jobs until the late 1990s, my dad overwintered the hives in North Dakota, which required a lot of preparation, including wrapping the hives in insulation and feeding them so they wouldn’t die of hungry until the spring thaw.
After earning a degree in business administration from Mayville State University in 1999, Nick worked for three years in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he returned when his father suffered health problems in 2002 to resume beekeeping.
“Since then, I’ve taken the initial 500 hives and grown to 3,500 hives. We are now taking the hives to California for almond tree pollination, then to Texas to get them ready for summer in North Dakota. Bees are generally in North Dakota from May through November.”
While agribusiness is rooted in honey, Nick and his wife Lisa use hive by-products to add value to their business.
“We have bee pollen, wax products and even sell a few hives to people looking for a few garden hives. The pollen is collected in a special trap which drops the pollen pellets from the legs of the bees into a drawer. It is used as a dietary supplement, providing energy and packed full of amino acids, vitamins and lipids to name just a few of the many health benefits. Wax products include candles, decorations and body butter.
“The wax comes from the honeycomb that we cut during the honey harvest. It is cleaned and then melted into a liquid which we pour into candle molds or mixed with essential oils and other natural ingredients for body butter or balms.
Lisa is the main wax worker, and their three young daughters love to “help out” and enjoy the process, Stromme says.
“We sell the goods at a few local stores and took them to the (North Dakota) State Fair in Minot this year, which was quite an experience. Lisa is great at selling wax products and has worked like crazy preparing for the State Fair and other big shows across the state. Being a member of Pride of Dakota definitely helps our products find customers.
The challenges of the beekeeping industry and business continue, but have changed over the years Stromme has worked in his family business.
“When I started the biggest, and it still is, the threat is varroa mites. This pest attaches itself to a bee much like a tick does to humans. It sucks blood and then compromises the system bees’ immune system, making them weak and susceptible to other diseases. The challenge of destroying bug upon bug is still being worked on. We are managing mite levels as best we can throughout the year with essential oil treatments as well as with many pharmaceutical treatments on the market.
Additional challenges in Stromme’s beekeeping business include the proper fodder needed to make honey, reliable trucking, and even making sure wild animals don’t destroy hives.
“Much of the conservation reserve program of the 90s is all but gone, so new locations are needed every year. I try to follow the Sheyenne River and pastures to catch more natural flowers.
“As we move our hives from North Dakota to southern states, trucking also becomes more difficult. Fuel prices are driving up shipping costs and a decreasing number of reliable truckers are taking longer to find transportation.”
One goal Stromme shared with me is one that many farmers feel and seek in their farm, ranch, or agribusiness.
He said: “The main objective is to keep the bees healthy and numerous in a size that is manageable enough to be profitable but still enjoyable.
“Cultivating the candle side and the bottling of honey is also what we are working on. While most of our honey is sold to large semi-load packers, bottling more direct to local customers and stores is always a goal. More and more people are looking for real food straight from the source and we can provide that.”
Growing an agribusiness, adding value with additional products, and taking the time to engage the next generation at the local 4-H club level, I enjoyed learning from Nick. The Stromme Honey bee boxes on farmland that I know so well hold a deeper understanding for me now.
Sign your child or grandchildren up for a local 4-H club this fall. Contact your county extension office. Each county has a 4-H club waiting for your membership and active participation.
Pinke is the publisher and managing director of Agweek. She can be reached at [email protected], or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.