Calhoun beekeepers and Ranger Bees business owners Curtis and Tiphani Simpson have a busy Spring ahead of them as they make plans to expand their business.
In its seven years of operation, Ranger Bess has gone from starting in 2013 with a humble two hives, to ending 2019 with around 700, according to Tiphani Simpson. She said they plan to expand that to 1,600 hives this coming Spring, more than doubling their current hive count.
“It took us seven years and a lot of trial and error to get where we are, and we are still growing,” she said. “We plan to expand to 1,600 hives. That means and additional 900 hives that we have to make this Spring.”
Tiphani Simpson said she and her husband, Curtis Simpson, started beekeeping as a hobby in 2013 to see if they could grow something out of it.
Curtis Simpson said they wanted to work with bees because “they are one of God’s most fascinating creatures, and they are much needed for the pollination of many crops in which we eat…”
The business is family-oriented with borth Curtis and Tiphani Simpson involved along with their two children; Jacquelynn Simpson, the “honey extracting and bottling queen,” and Jevin Simpson, “Curtis’ right-hand man.”
Tiphani Simspon said she is in charge of rearing queen bees, while Curtis Simpson is the “brains of the operation.”
While beekeeping started as a hobby for the family, it has now grown into a full-time job with year-round responsibilities as the business enters its eighth year of operation, according to Tiphani Simpson.
“We enjoy what we do. It’s like all other farming; it just becomes second-nature to you,” she said.
Along with bee sales and selling honey, she said the business makes its profit from pollinating crops for growers, whether it be watermelons, cantaloupe, pumpkins, almonds, or anything else growers need pollinated.
According to Tiphani Simpson, the bees are sent to California in late-January, where they will stay until March to pollinate almonds.
When the bees return in March, they will produce a Spring honey crop before being taken to pollinate watermelons in Kentucky in Indiana toward the end of May.
The bees return again August until it begins to turn cold in October. They are then sent to Mississippi to keep warm until they are ready to pollinate almonds in January again.
“It’s pretty non-stop. When you’re not in the bees, you’re preparing for the next time of fixing equipment. This is our job full-time,” Tiphani Simpson said.
Ranger bees sells honey in local McLean stores as well as other stores outside of the county. They also make and sell starter hives, or “nucs” to sell during Spring as well. Anyone interested in nucs can find updates on the Ranger Bees Facebook page.