Meet the President of the American Honey Producers

January is cold in Bruce, S.D., where the average nighttime temperature dips to 3 degrees.

Beekeeper Kelvin Adee, who hails from Bruce, isn't experiencing any of that right now.

He's in California--and so are his bees for the almond pollination season. 

Adee is the president of the American Honey Producers' Association, which is meeting Jan. 7 through Jan. 12 for the 2020 North American Honey and Pollinator Summit and Trade Show at the Hyatt Regency, Sacramento.

Adee and other members of the executive board met Tuesday morning, Jan. 7 at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, for a pre-conference session. They then participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the newly constructed USDA-ARS bee research facility, corner of Bee Biology and Hopkins roads. (See news story)

“Is it true that the national tree of South Dakota is the telephone pole?” we asked him during the luncheon.

He laughed and said the state does indeed have wide-open spaces. The population in Bruce is sparse, too. In fact, the 2019 census recorded the population at 204.

Bruce is the home of Honey Days Festival, held the last week of July. In fact, Adee Honey Farms, known as the world's largest producer of honey (and a prominent employer in town) inspired it.

But back to Kelvin Adee. He's a third-generation beekeeper. He actually lives in nearby Brookings but works out of the home office in Bruce. 

His biosketch indicates: “Growing up in a commercial beekeeping family, Kelvin developed his interest in beekeeping at a young age, learning the business and the science from his father. As a third-generation beekeeper, he also gathered beekeeping knowledge from his grandfather, uncles and cousins who have been involved in beekeeping operations." Adee attended college in Bartlesville, Okla., receiving a bachelor's degree in business and accounting. and then returned to the beekeeping business. He has been actively involved in growing the business into an 80,000 colony farm operating in multiple states, according to the biosketch. He oversees the queen rearing/nuc operation in Mississippi and Texas along with company-wide honey production.‚Äč

His biosketch also relates: “In addition to beekeeping, Kelvin has served on boards in various positions for the state beekeeping association and the national association. He is active in his community and his church and has served numerous years on the school board. Kelvin married his high-school sweetheart Darla and recently celebrated 37 years of marriage. They have four grown sons and five grandchildren. Three of Kelvin's sons have joined him working full time in the beekeeping business, and the fourth son works in crop production ag. He also enjoys working in the business with his father, Richard, brother, Bret and his sister Marla.”

Meanwhile, it's brrrr cold in Bruce, but here in the Davis area, it's warming up. Plants such as tidy tips, Kniphofia "Christmas Cheer" and manzanita are blooming on the UC Davis campus. 

Almonds usually start blooming around Valentine's Day, heralding the beginning of almond pollination season. Hear that buzz? No? It's coming.