Greg Newton is Mona's mayor and a professional beekeeper and the two occupations are more similar than it may seem.
Cities and bee colonies have much in common: Both are organized communities with nursemaids, housekeepers and scouts.Bees may be a little easier to handle, however.
Newton prefers working with the gentle brown bees (Carniolan). "Yellow bees can be nasty," he said. Nevertheless, he handles both types of bees; they're treated the same, and both provide honey. "There is no difference in the honey," he said.
Newton first became interested in beekeeping when he was about 12. "Some people here in town gave me some used bee equipment," he said. He read a booklet about bees and built beehives in shop class.
Next he located a swarm of bees in a tree.
"I was scared to death," he said. Nevertheless, he managed to place the bees in the box, and the young boy was on his way to developing a fascinating hobby. "I learned a lot on my own," Newton said. Because there was no one to which he could turn for advice, he read many books, gradually becoming an expert.
Newton has been a beekeeper for more than 25 years. Last year he bought 1,000 hives from the retiring 85-year-old owner of Stewart Honey Co. in Spanish Fork.
Before deciding to become a full-time beekeeper, Newton spent several years as a deputy sheriff and many years as Juab County fire marshal. He's enjoying his avocation-turned-occupation.
Newton said he is not the largest or smallest beekeeper in the state. "I'm kind of middle of the road." He hopes to double his hives this spring.
In January he took his bees to California, where they were given medication and were placed in almond orchards. "The orchard owners were very pleased with the bees," Newton said. The bees were healthy and strong and some of the best the growers had seen.
One reason the bees were so healthy was because Newton wintered them in an apple cold storage structure in Genola, Utah County. Keeping the bees in a dormant state at 40-degree temperatures cuts down on stress and possible deaths. Bees take less food in storage using 11/2 pounds of honey as compared with the 8 to 12 pounds needed when the bees are outdoors.
Newton and Cox Honey of Logan took 5,300 hives to California.
"I will be able to divide each of my hives when I bring them back in March," said Newton. The first honey made each year goes to replenish the first two boxes, which contain the hive. The rest of the honey is surplus and is sold.
When the bees are brought back to Utah they will be placed in orchards, including trees owned by Brigham Young University. Afterward the bees will be moved into the mountainous area where they make summer honey. Newton moves many of his bees into Kamas.
The honey crop is made in July and August. Most Americans prefer white honey. Newton said he had three hives of bees two miles apart in Kamas. The upper and lower hives produced white honey, but the middle hive produced a dark honey known as honeydew, a non-table honey favored in Germany.
A German man who wanted the dark honey said that in Germany it comes from the forests. In Utah, dark honey is made when bees pollinate sunflowers, oak and rabbit brush. Some comes from the sticky sap produced when aphids attack a tree.
Light honey comes from clover. The three grades of honey are kept separate and are not mixed. "Most of our honey is light amber, which is a grade just under white," Newton said.
The most difficult time for a beekeeper is when the honey is extracted. "We work seven days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day, extracting honey," Newton said.
Newton said a hive will have about 60,000 bees in the summer. A queen will lay 2,000 eggs a day. The bees work themselves to death, with each bee serving in all the different jobs as it ages. The worker bee begins to work when she is two days old. The last stage is the scout bee. The field bee works so hard in summer she will live six weeks; in the winter bees can live six months.
Newton has one of the two melting plants in Utah in which beeswax is melted down and sold.
Insecticides have not been a big problem for Newton, though the problem does exist in some areas. "The fruitgrowers depend on us, so they are careful with their spray," he said. "As long as they spray early in the morning or late at night, they will not hurt the bees." Most bees stay in the hive until 8 a.m. After two hours there will be no harm done the bees.
In addition to caring for his bees and selling honey, Newton also sells bee supplies to other beekeepers and is more than willing to help the hobbyist. "When I first started out there was no one to ask. I don't mind helping others out now."