Tom & Daniel Crofut
Good Flow Honey Co.
Keeping bees in Austin since 1975
"The beehive is a graceful haven
where hard work results in sweet rewards"...Unknown
We are a family enterprise in Austin, Texas. Our honey house aka
"the shop" is located 20 miles southeast of Austin, in Cedar Creek, Texas.
Bees have been an important part of our lives since 1973.
I can't really say for sure how or why I got the "bee bug," it just evolved
from a fascination with the whole process of pollination and honey-making
and the bee's place in nature. When my mother learned of my
interested, she sent me The ABC to XYZ of Beekeeping, A.I. Root's
1200 page encyclopedia of beekeeping. I read it cover to cover.
When I took over the care of two hives that had been given to the
country school where we taught and lived, I began to become involved
with the inner workings of the bee colony, itself.
After experiencing some early successes with a handful of hives,
I was sure I was becoming an expert.
In 1975, Daniel, my son, and I went to Navasota, Tx for a six month crash course in
queen raising, equipment building, honey production, nucleus hive establishing
and maintenance at the Weaver Apiaries,a four generation extended family
of serious beekeepers and queen breeders. I became aware that there was
a world of experienced to be gained.
Now, thirty-nine years later, if anything, I feel more humble.
Beekeeping is a wonderful absorbing and enlightening hobby, but a backbreaking,
tough,and challenging vocation. The fact that I am writing this in midst of yet another
horrific drought certainly colors my attitude, but it speaks to a vital aspect
of beekeeping; we must operate under the dictates of our planet.
Keeping bees in drought conditions is a humbling experience.
However, the simple truth that our charges, our bees, have survived 100,000,000 years
through all of earth's viable (sometimes violent and inhospitable) conditions is reason enough
to stand in awe of this fragile little creature and its social system & its infrastructure.
We have so much to learn from them. I go out and "work my bee's and if I'm observant enough,
I'm exposed to some incredible science fiction the human would have trouble imagining.
Bees are so much a part of this planet, and yet they are so different from humans.
Look at one closely! Put on a bee veil, get close to a (friendly) hive, and just observe
the interactions of bees coming and going and communicating.
Challenging intruders, exchanging nectar, pollen, water.. They communicate
via pheromones (chemical relaying scent) and touch.
We are just recently becoming aware that they have different levels and intensities
of chemical communication. This is much more complex than we ever thought.
Bees, ants, and termites have remarkable societies.
It's not that sitting back and reasoning the interest and well being of the colony comes first,
it just does! That's the way it is! 1,000,000,000 years later!
So, we have several hundred hives in the Austin area. We don't move them much.
We used to (it's called chasing flowers) but it can be hard on them and hard on us, as well.
In years of decent weather (read timely rainfall), we'll make new hives from our
bees, brood, and equipment and supply them with a queen cell
from a reputable queen bee breeding outfit.
They are screen caged with several hundred nurse bees to maintain the temperature.
Once they arrive we have 24 hours to get them into their future colony.
Within a day or so the queen will hatch out and hopefully take her maiden
flight and successfully mate with multiple drones (most our numerous hives in the area.)
We like a certain amount of diversity for a hardier bee, but we are also countering
African-hybridized traits by annually introducing our European stock..
It is working but it's a continuous process.
The bees will sort it out. Somewhat magically the mated queen will return to her rightful hive,
among many, and begin her duty as an egg layer. We monitor this; we feed; add frames of brood,
if necessary, and stay out of their way whenever possible. If all goes well, this nucleus colony can
rapidly grow into a full colony, adding 1000-2000 bees a day.
Potentially this new colony will produce a surplus of honey.
In a good year, our bees average over a 100 lbs. a hive, leaving at least
50 lbs. of honey on the hive. There is an area in the hive-- the bottom
two boxes that we leave intact. This is the brood nest.
This should be full of bees, frames of brood, and surrounded by frames of pollen (protein)
and honey/nectar (carbohydrates/enzymes), this is the core of the colony.
The honey is harvested by us, when warranted, from the upper shallow supers, or boxes.
Central Texas flowers (in a non-drought year) will produce various nectars from April-October.
In 2014 with hot, dry conditions, only the Mesquite tree produced a good nectar flow for the
bees. We left most of the honey on the bees and requeened most of our hives,
but we didn't make any new hives other than having a few swarms.
We knew the weather didn't warrant weakening the hives by splitting them for increase.
My son Daniel and I do all of the beekeeping and we have one employee, Emilio,
who helps with bottling honey & processing honey off the hives.
We have several varieties of honey including Wildflower from Texas, Clover and Orange Blossom. We also offer "raw" honey
which is never heated or filtered and bottled in glass jars.
The bottled honey is then palletized and trucked into Austin by
one of our delivery drivers; Joe, Ernie or Mike and then distributed by them.
In Austin, Judy, my wife assisted by granddaughters Samantha and Ashlyn, and Adrian stage the honey orders and
invoice them. Judy is most probably the person you will speak to if you call.
She is assisted in various ways by daughters Jennifer, and Sonoma as well as daughter-in-law Amy.
Grandaughters Julia and Harriet and grandson,Brendan assist when not in school.
Engineer, Mark is ever present to keep all the parts moving.
We certainly appreciate your loyalty and support over the years and
hope to supply you and respond to you however we can with our honey line.
Please feel free to call Judy at Good Flow (512-472-6714) if you have any questions regarding our business or our products.
Good Flow Co.