Busy Bees
From the hives to their lives:
The Simon family’s life of beekeeping
The Simons

The Simon family (Left to right) Kate (9), Julie, Andy, Cameron (6), and Carson (10) celebrate Andy’s birthday after family dinner. “We truly believe that our happy life, strong marriage, and amazing kids are all gifts from God,” Julie said.

The family of five is never bored when it comes to juggling their busy weekly schedule. From running the family beekeeping business, Andy and Julie working outside jobs, and raising three kids, there’s always something going on.

Julie prepares dinner for the family while Andy wrapped up his daily beekeeping of checking on the hives. “Balancing a regular job with Simon Apiaries can be tough. Time flies, and there’s always more to do. But we’ve figured out how to work smarter, not harder, with the bees,” Andy said.

“It’s pretty much sun-up to

sun-down,” Andy said.

Andy starts his days early in the morning preparing to work with the bees, gathering equipment, and suiting up. Either by himself or with some of the kids, they go out and begin to work.

Early Morning

“I like the bees because after I work if I do good, I get to earn money,” Kate said.

Andy gives a crash course on beekeeping for new beekeepers purchasing nucs from Simon Apiaries. A nuc is a small hive that holds a small colony of bees. It contains food and a queen for the colony and new beekeepers typically buy nucs to help them start their hive. “It’s so rewarding when someone tells me our product helped them with allergies or sleep,” Andy said.

It was in the spring of 2015 when Andy and Julie Simon began the family beekeeping business, Simon Apiaries. It started as just a small hobby but quickly turned into something bigger than they could have ever expected. Andy dove into a dedication to learning more about bees and from there it grew.

Andy inspects their hives and checks for the queen in each one. “I’m always thinking of ways to make things better and more efficient,” Andy said.

“I’ve been stung probably over 1,000 times. I don’t know, at some point I just stopped counting,” Andy said.

Finding the Queen

They began with two hives and by the second year, they had harvested 30 pounds of honey. Not knowing what to do with so much honey, they turned to their community, and from there, the demand expanded. Within a few years, the Simon’s began managing over 350 hives and the honey started being produced in larger quantities.

Julie drops off an order of honey to butcher Steven Barton at Rian’s Fatted Calf meat shoppe. “There can be gain with the honey, but there’s also a big risk financially,” Julie said.

“Looking back, we chuckle at how we once thought 30 pounds was a lot. Now, we easily sell that much to just one of our many vendors,” Julie said.

After 9 years of beekeeping, Simon Apiaries has over 600 hives and supplies honey to 13 local vendors.

“Along the journey, we’ve gained extensive knowledge about bees, far beyond what we initially imagined,” Julie said.

With beekeeping, much of their business operates around seasons, with their busiest time with the bees being spring and early summer. This season is when the bees are the most active, require extra care, and when they have the most sales of bees made by their customers.

“We want our customers to be successful beekeepers,” Julie said.

Although there are financial risks to beekeeping because of the impact weather can have on their work, and other outside factors, the Simons are dedicated to their craft.

Carson, the oldest child of the Simon family, prepares to go up to bat at his baseball tournament. "I lost count of how many times I've been stung after about 150," Carson said.

The Simon family cheers on Carson at his baseball tournament. Between all three kids' extracurriculars, the family has to balance everyone’s schedules to keep everything in line. “We have learned to juggle events and schedules quite well,” Andy said.

“Running my own business feels like nurturing a child,” Andy said.

Carson and Cameron play around the hives while dad talks to customers. Carson helped out his dad with the bees. “My favorite memory is going down to Georgia with dad to help with the bees,” Carson said.

Kate practices horse riding at her lesson at Aliskana Acres. Kate has been riding horses for three years.

Julie helps Kate tighten her helmet before her horse riding lesson with her instructor Heather Willoughby. “Our family is always on the move,” Julie said.

For Andy at the beginning of Simon Apiaries, there was uncertainty, lots of late nights, hard work, and ultimately a lot of effort put in to help the business grow.

Andy and Julie pray with Kate before bed. “No matter how busy we get, we always keep our faith in Christ at the center,” Julie said.

“It’s not easy, but it’s my passion,” Andy said.

Julie attends her youngest son Cameron’s kindergarten class at Alvaton Elementary to show an observation bee hive and give a quick lesson about honeybees. “I like the bees because they make honey for us,” Cameron said.

When Andy and the rest of the family aren’t beekeeping, they are constantly on the go. From Carson and Cameron’s baseball practices to Kate’s horse riding and volleyball lessons, they fill their lives spending time as a family. Even when they are always on the move, they continue to support and lift each other up.

Cameron picks flowers from the family yard to give to his mom while she helps with customer nuc pick ups.

Andy and his family are motivated to keep the business going and keeping up with the demand for honey. Through the busy days, they always make it a goal to help each other.

The Simon family dog, Honey, sits at the top of hill overlooking the backyard watching Andy help a customer. When Honey was a puppy, she got stung in the face while she was near the bees and ever since, will not get close when the bees are out. “She supports and overlooks from a distance,” Julie said.

Julie measures Cameron’s height before settling the kids down for bed after a long Sunday schedule. “Our family is constantly on the run. Whether is be bee related or sports, we take it all in stride,” Andy said.

End to a Busy Day

The Simon’s watch TV and relax before getting the kids ready for bedtime. “We can honestly say that the life we have, the wonderful marriage and the amazing children are all blessings from God,” Andy said. Through the Simon’s busy schedules they find joy in what they do and continue to stay close as a family in all the busyness. “I’m sure in five years when they’re older and teenagers, we’re just going to be like, man, we don’t have any time,” Andy said.

“This is our busy season of life. It hasn’t been this busy before and this year it’s every single day. So, we’re trying to find that perfect little balance,” Julie said.

Made on