Union Bee Company   |   Connecticut   |   Army

Army Ranger Tom Bacon spent a few years wanting to get into beekeeping. His uncle, who kept bees, found out; a few years ago, on Thanksgiving, he gave him a beehive. Tom bought a second and filled them with package bees the following spring, and has since grown the apiary to 18 hives with locally adapted bees.

Union Bee Company is a honey bee and honey bee product company. His property is a small 5 acres headquartered in Union, CT, a town that was never large on agriculture because of the rocky terrain and poor soil quality. They are a critical part of New England’s Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor.

Tom has a strong passion for keeping honey bees and believes his company will offer the Last Green Valley Region positive economic growth in a manner that is consistent with the region’s goal of maintaining the Last Green Valley’s undeveloped heritage and Union, CT’s Plan of Open Space and Conservation.

“Beekeeping seems to be one of the last agricultural businesses that someone can start in New England without capital in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and begin with little to no experience,” shares the lifelong learner, who regularly reads scholarly articles and bee literature.

While Tom was scheduled to take the exams for Cornell’s Master Beekeeping program this year, Covid 19 has forced Cornell to offer either virtual tests or to postpone the testing to next year— he has opted to take the tests next year to gain more in person lab experience during the exams.

Tom’s been monitoring the farm real estate market and developing a plan to purchase a full-size farm that would replace his full-time job (and in the meantime gaining experience and equipment). Beekeeping is the foundation for executing that plan. Once Union Bee Company has grown to a few hundred hives, he will be able to purchase a farm and have capital to support growth.

Always adapting to changing circumstances, Tom believe his honey bee business will be successful because he will make it successful.

A FVC/Tractor Supply gift card just awarded to Tom has really helped. Rather than bottling in traditional honey jars, this year he will bottle in mason jars from Tractor Supply.

“This [small grant] allows me to take the money I had reserved for bottling and invest it in a quality Shop Fox 2 HP Shaper. This shaper will drastically cut the time it takes to manufacture beehive bodies and frames— and will certainly help maintain consistent quality control. This will help us reach our goals by keeping costs low producing our apiary’s woodware, while keeping our time in the shop under control. Time is a more and more valuable resource each year.”