When it comes to the topic of bees in the capital city, Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies has a strong reputation, as it has served as a premier one-stop shop for bees, beekeeping supplies, honey and other bee-associated items for about a quarter century.
NANCY STEWART, owner of Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies, has operated her business for the past 26 years. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong
Located in the brightly-colored, bee-themed, artistically-painted building at 2110 X St., where the wholesale carpet business, Berven Carpets operated during the late 1960s and 1970s, this local business has been serving its customers at this site since 1993. The store was located at 2400 21st St. from 1985 to 1990 and at 2100 21st St., near Pancake Circus – 2101 Broadway – for the following three years.
Among the store’s offerings is a full line of backyard beekeeping supplies, including boxes and beeswax frames.
One can also purchase soap and candle making supplies, as well as many ready-made bee products, which include candles, lotions, creams, lipsticks, shampoos and conditioners.
The store also offers various gift items such as bee-related T-shirts, books, home and garden decorations, jewelry, cookbooks, stuffed animals and even beeswax crayons.
One of the most popular attractions of the store is its honey products tasting bar. A generous selection of raw, local honeys, comb honeys, spun honeys, honey sticks, pollen and royal jelly are available.
Many people are impressed by the store’s selection of honeys, and at times customers inquire whether the store adds flavor to some honeys, since they are only familiar the typical clover honey that is available in grocery stores.
Those interested in purchasing local honey from the store can do so at the $4 per pound, “fill-your-own jar” cost or at the $5.95 to $6.95 per pound, pre-bottled cost.
SACRAMENTO BEEKEEPING SUPPLIES offers a wide variety of beekeeping equipment and accessories, local honey, pollen, royal jelly and bee-themed gifts. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong
Because of its relatively large inventory, the store is also well equipped for setting up new hobbyists with all the necessities for entering the beekeeping world.
One can begin beekeeping for as little as $250 to $400, which includes a box, board bottom, suit and gloves.
Although the number of bee boxes one can operate depends upon the size of one’s property, a standard size backyard is allowed to contain up to two boxes.
As a mainly family-operated business, the store is headed by its owner Nancy Stewart, who is assisted by her daughters, Donna Stewart and Pam Hill.
Working as volunteers in the store are Nancy’s husband, Fred, who Nancy married in 1957, and her grandchildren, Courtney Hill, 15, and Brooklynne Hill, 12.
With a chuckle, Nancy, who earned a degree in psychology at California State University, Sacramento in 1972, said that Fred is a full-time volunteer, except when his golf outings get in the way.
Although the Stewarts’ involvement in the beekeeping business world began in 1985, the roots of Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies can be traced back much earlier.
JAMIE CONCANNON, an Amador County resident who was visiting the store last week, prepares to taste local honey at the business’s honey products tasting bar. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong
During his youth, Fred found himself fascinated by the bees that his aunt kept on her property in Arkansas.
Already carrying with him this fond memory, in the 1970s, Fred was loaned a book about beekeeping and his interest expanded, resulting in his acquisition of his first beehive in 1975.
By the early 1980s, while working for Caltrans, Fred was maintaining 100 beehives with his friend and co-worker, Al Brink.
Through Fred’s interest in beekeeping, Nancy also grew fond of beekeeping. But her desire to venture into the beekeeping world did not occur until 1983, when she met Barbara Dwyer of the now-defunct, West Sacramento business, United Bee Craft.
After opening her store in 1985, Nancy purchased United Bee Craft a year later.
Pondering her years of operating Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies, Nancy, who resides in the Little Pocket neighborhood of Sacramento, said that she has had many rewarding experiences and that she is very content with her store and the success that it continually experiences.
“I really enjoy the store and its ongoing success,” Nancy said. “Most of all, I like dealing with people who are involved in beekeeping. I also enjoy helping people who are new to the hobby, who want to learn how to do it.”
Nancy said that the popularity of beekeeping is on the rise and that her business has assisted about 100 to 200 new beekeeping hobbyists within the past year.
“Beekeeping has become pretty popular as a hobby in the last three years,” Nancy said. “The bees have had something called colony collapse disorder and they’ve had some
BEESWAX candles are among the products sold at Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong
heavy die out. That’s improving and there’s been a lot of people who I think were thinking about beekeeping for years who finally decided to do it.”
Nancy added that the current gardening boom has also added to the popularity of beekeeping.
“There have been a lot of people doing their own gardening and eating local and organic food, and bees and beekeeping go along with that, as well,” Nancy said.
Nancy’s desire to educate others about beekeeping is something that she has passed on to her store’s employees, who are eager to assist the general public in answering any beekeeping questions.
Wilton resident Brian Fishback, a past president of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers Association, said that he is very appreciative of the willingness that workers of Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies have to share their beekeeping-related knowledge.
LOTS OF OPTIONS. The store offers a wide variety of non-beekeeping supplies, including candles, lotions, creams, lipsticks, shampoos and conditioners and bee-related home and garden decorations, jewelry, cookbooks and stuffed animals. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong
“I think (Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies) is a great asset,” Fishback said. “They’re not only an asset to the beekeeping industry, but they’re an asset here to local beekeepers. They are a hub for beekeeping issues in the city, in the county, as well as with local beekeepers. You have a lot of hobbyists who are coming into (beekeeping) and it’s like anything else; you can read a lot of books, but it doesn’t exactly always mean that that’s what is going to happen out in the field. And that’s where Fred, Nancy and, of course, their girls come in. When people come down and find them and have a lot of questions, they’ve always attended to everybody’s questions and answered them.”
Nancy emphasized that because her business has a partially misleading name, she strives to continuously educate others that her store offers much more than beekeeping supplies.
“I do like to (stress the) difference between just beekeeping things (and other products),” Nancy said. “I named the store Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies, because (beekeeping supplies) is all we had at first. It’s much more than beekeeping. Come and see for yourself.”
Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
For more information, call (916) 451-2337 or visit www.sacramentobeekeeping.com.