Tim Hoda, Rainforest Spice Company
On this episode of Working: Syracuse, we put on Tim Hoda's white beekeeping suits to experience up-close what it's like to tend to thousands of tiny, honey-crazed insects. Hoda keeps bees at four locations, including his hometown of Taberg, N.Y. As a beekeeper, Hoda uses his bees to create products such as bee pollen, chapstick, and beeswax candles, which he sells through his business, the Rainforest Spice Company. Despite the tropical name of his company, Hoda faces less-than-sunny weather challenges in Central New York thanks to the long, harsh winters. Last year, the season took 80 percent of his bees. In fact, the phenomenon known as "winter kill" accounts for the annual loss of about 50 percent to 60 percent of the state's bee population. Fortunately, all of Hoda's hives survived this winter.

Most years, Hoda compensates for his lost bees by ordering nucleus hives, which are small, honey-bee colonies derived from larger colonies. Bee colonies are always in high demand in the spring. So Hoda often splits the nucleus hives and sells them to other beekeepers for $150 a piece. A strong hive will produce about a 60-pound pail of honey in the first year, which means Hoda will break even with the purchasing cost. The spring is an exciting time for bees and their keepers. Sources of nectar and pollen become available, and the hives' occupants begin to grow and work. The fall requires even more time-consuming activity. Hoda begins to use the leftover honey to make products to sell at farmers' markets and distribute to small health-food stores in the area such as Natur-Tyme.