Modest Beginnings

Tug Hollow Honey was established in 1976 in upstate New York in the Finger Lakes Region, just off of Seneca Lake. At that time, about thirty hives were managed for honey production and pollination. Those hives often yielded heavy crops of goldenrod honey, but that was before the present day problems the honey bee faces.

In 1998, the business was transplanted to Pennsylvania to its present location in scenic Stone Valley. The first hives were set up around the time the varroa and trachea mites unleashed their wrath on bee populations. Those hives were stocked with a hybrid bee from Primorski region of the Sea of Japan that the Department of Agriculture imported for their ability to withstand the mites in their native environment. This did not prove to be so in their new habitat.

In the years to follow, many other breeds were tried: some with more success than others. Carnolians, Buckfasts, Italians, Russians were all given space in the hives. The ones that survived winter were used to make new hives the following spring and summer. In years of heavy losses, the active season was spent restocking, re-evaluating the stock and the locations of the hives.

Best of Times Worst of Times

Bumper crops occur occasionally, usually when the summer has been idyllic with moderate amounts of rain throughout, and temperatures range from the high seventies to the low nineties during the day followed by cool nights. If the bees are healthy, enormous crops can be made under these conditions. However, how many times has the ground hog seen his shadow in Pennsylvania!

Now on the other end of the feel-good spectrum, there are years when black bears come out of hibernation with a ferocious appetite for honey bee colonies. Even though the hives are protected with electric fences, bears sometimes manage to violate those hives. The bears are not at all particular in how they disassemble the hives, and can leave a trail of demolished woodenware, honeycomb, and bees behind, as they make off with their booty.