Bill and Ann Snyders take great pride in maintaining an open space for their bees, which enjoy the nectar and pollen of a wide variety of flowers in the Bay Area’s unique and diverse Mediterranean climate. The hives are located in the pristine Crystal Springs Reservoir south of San Francisco, home to a diversity of native wildflowers. This area contains no commercial farming, thus existing in its natural state. Bill and Ann keep and collect honey from approximately 150 hives.
Bill and Ann manage the apiary and honey production. One part-time worker, who has worked with the family for 15 years, assists with lifting and loading beehives.
None. Some hives are not treated for varroa mite and are registered organic with the state of California. As of this writing, no national standards for honey have been established.
Bill is a second generation beekeeper in the Snyders family. His father started beekeeping in La Honda and when Bill was a teenager, he began helping his father with the operation. Bill also spent time in British Columbia, Canada where he learned to harvest fresh bee pollen, which is considered by some to be nature’s perfect food with its rich supply of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes and amino acids. Through apprenticeship and experience, Bill has developed a keen sense for his craft. Bill continues the operation to this day, now with the assistance of his wife, Ann. Snyders honey is sold at farmers’ markets, health food stores and gourmet food shops in the Bay Area.
The Snyders family philosophy is to produce high quality local honey without altering its natural state. All of their products are minimally processed. This philosophy has led to the development of their specialty product, “Cappings Honey,” for which the family is renowned in San Francisco and the Peninsula . “Cappings” is a local wildflower honey that is unheated, unfiltered, and in its raw form. The Snyderses believe that this process retains the vital enzymes and nutritional qualities from the bees and pollen. Honey is extracted from the hives between May and August and then bottled and/or packaged for their customers.
Bill and Ann do not chemically treat their beehives for the varroa mite, perhaps the most significant apiary pest. Instead, they have employed various methods to prevent the mite from harming their bees, including Integrated Pest Management (I.P.M.) techniques such as screened hive bottoms, natural essential oils and, most importantly, breeding their bees to be mite-tolerant. Essential oil treatment is applied once a year after all honey has been extracted; this generally takes place in the autumn before the bees ‘retire’ for the winter.