Buzz grows for Sequim Bee Farm
Bees have been flying around Buddy and Meg DePew’s minds for years.
For Buddy, it all started with an unusual encounter 30 years ago while working as a security guard in Seattle. A call came in, he said, for a large group of bees at the top of the parking lot.
“I’ll go and see and of course there was a swarm of bees on my truck,” he said.
DePew said he called a beekeeper who he watched take the bees, and “I’ve had an interest ever since. “
He and his wife Meg, a psychiatric nurse practitioner for Peninsula Behavioral Health, started beekeeping as hobbyists about 14 years ago. Meg said she had also always thought about beekeeping, which prompted them to sign up and take classes with the North Olympic Beekeepers Association.
In 2014, the couple launched Sequim Bee Farm, which has now grown to the point where DePews hope they can further automate the process to grow their business.
And, for the second time in three years, they have been selected as finalists in Kitsap Bank’s edg3 FUND Small Business competition.
On November 15, Meg will speak to judges at the Kitsap Conference Center in Bremerton – similar to the “Shark Tank” show, she said – as she argues her case for $ 20,000. The edg3 FUND competition, however, includes a live audience.
Sequim Bee Farm competes with Kodama Farm & Food Forest from Chimacum, Bremerton’s Wood Originals, Compost Manufacturing Alliance from Port Orchard and HandiMaps from Renton.
Meg said the peninsula firm achieved high visibility as a semi-finalist in 2016, with the bank producing a professional ad for it; a second was also shot recently.
âWe didn’t win, but we never lost,â she said.
Meg said the competition is getting better every year.
“They are not going to go wrong choosing one of the five of us,” she said.
In 2016, the DePews were the victims of a major vandalism where 20 of their beehives were killed in their home.
Meg said they did not apply to the competition in 2017 because they believed they would still be recovering.
âBut we went way beyond that,â she said.
This year, the DePews have overseen more than 80 beehives in the area, and Sequim Bee Farm’s honey can be found in stores in three counties. The couple also shared their time selling in both Sequim and Port Angeles farmers markets.
Along with the sales growth, the couple have won several awards, including a 2018 Good Food Award for their Snowberry Rose Honey. This is the third year in a row that they have won an award from the Good Food Foundation.
âWe’re growing fast and people are looking for our honey,â Meg said.
Sequim Bee Farm also continues to help Sequim’s lavender industry thrive. In recent years, Buddy has taken over bee management for nine lavender farms, including Purple Haze Lavender Farm, Jardin du Soleil Lavender Farm, Cedarbrook Lavender & Herb Farm, Sunshine Herb & Lavender Farm, B&B Family Farm, Washington Lavender Farm, Lost Mountain Lavender Farm and garden of big cats and gifts. He recently added Meli’s Lavender Farm.
Buddy said his friend Ed Giersch, owner of Lavender Skep Apiary, wanted to cut his expenses and got him to take care of the lavender side of beekeeping.
He continues to prepare honey from each farm for future products.
As a small business, the DePews said making $ 20,000 could save them time and money.
âIf we were to fund automation on our own, it would take four or five years to get everything we need,â Meg said.
Equipment to make and extract honey is expensive, the couple said, and finding good second-hand equipment is virtually non-existent as you have to watch out for disease and other issues.
Buddy said he is limited in his time to watch the bees because capping or extracting honey takes so long by hand.
âWe still do it the old fashioned way most of the time,â Meg said.
âThere is a limitation external to us, and he always removes all the caps by hand. (Kitsap Bank) wants a business to have a HUGE impact for, and (the money would) have a HUGE impact for us. “
Along with the Nov. 15 contest, the DePews plan to sell honey in various bazaars during the winter.
For more information and / or to place an order, call 360-460-2341 or visit www.sequimbeefarm.com.
The public is encouraged to attend the edg3 FUND Live show at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, November 15, with tickets available at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3617964.
Contact Matthew Nash at [email protected]