Mike Paducha is a Planner with Outlying Boiler Services (OBS) in the Utilities department. Mike first joined Utilities in 2012 after serving four years in the Navy. In Utilities, evaluating processes and efficiencies in the way work is done and, most importantly, safety are essential. Mike says, “There’s a very small margin for error”—which is also true in beekeeping.
Initially the hobby started due to his wife’s interest, but Mike was intrigued by being able to watch and learn how a different organism goes through its life-cycle and liked the prospect of harvesting honey. After a year of research that included many YouTube videos, becoming members of the Ann Arbor Bee Club, and finding a mentor experienced in beekeeping, the Paduchas decided to start their own hives.
Together, he and his wife have been keeping beehives for the past 3 seasons. They now have five hives – four at their home in Pinckney and a fifth at a colleague’s house in Ann Arbor. “You typically think of a city as being a concrete jungle, but Ann Arbor is very diverse with flowers and plants that bee species need to thrive. The hive in Ann Arbor did better than the hives out in the country,” Mike mused.
This year they are planning to split the colony in Ann Arbor. “A strong hive will naturally want to split and expand and reproduce a queen for the new colony,” Mike explained.
Last year, the Paduchas harvested roughly 150 lbs of honey – the most they have ever had. They currently don’t sell at farmer’s markets or retail stores because that requires harvesting the honey in an FDA-inspected and approved kitchen or facility. “This goes down a huge rabbit hole!” said Mike, “but being able to sell it would be a dream.” For now, they share with friends and family and sell in personal transactions.
For Mike, “Getting the understanding and general care of the hive has been the main focus these first few years. We’re figuring out what methods of beekeeping work best for us. The honey harvests have just been a delicious byproduct.”
Written by Kimberly Gauss, April 2022