Charles Martin Simon was born on July 8, 1941, at 6 A.M., in Newark, N.J., the first major U.S. city to go bankrupt due to racial strife. He graduated from Montclair Academy, a private, pseudo-military high school famous for it’s state-of-the-art dress code and discipline, in 1959, and went on to Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, where he majored in Agriculture and English Literature.
He was always a writer, having started his first novel in 1948, at the age of seven, and always a nature boy, therefore the split major. But after two years at Rutgers, he realized the agriculture he was being taught was not the agriculture he wanted to learn, and it was only going to get worse. He’d had enough of castrating sheep, calculating chemical fertilizer specifications, and murdering chickens. His English lit studies weren’t much more promising. The high point came when the editor-in-chief of the College Literary Magazine, who, although never having learned to write himself, went on to become the has-been of an illustrious career as the Clinton Administration’s Poet Laureate, recognized Simon’s writing and asked him to take over the magazine, which offer Simon graciously declined.
Simon dropped out and drifted for a few years and then went to California and became part of the organic farming movement, as a partner in a 21-acre piece. Believing strongly in non-mechanized farming, he worked the farm completely by hand from 1967 until 1977. And that was where his involvement with bees began in earnest in 1967.
The 21 acres cost $5,000 originally, but when the partners were offered $350,000.00, they just couldn’t resist. Simon voted against the sale, arguing that the ten years put into the land was worth more than any amount of money. He was outvoted, the land was not divisible, and he lost the farm.
But he did not lose the bees. He was able to keep them on various pieces of property and continue with bee culture, since it is not dependent on stable locations as are horses, chickens, goats, gardens, and orchards.
In 1990, he invented and began marketing world-wide the SuperUnfoundation bee frame. This was well-received and selling well when the price of wood doubled and then tripled. It suddenly cost more for the raw materials than he could get selling the finished frames, and he was out of business. Never one to accept things “as they are” and being much more interested in the health of the bees than in their produce, he is developing an apiculture system to allow the bees to actualize their true potential vitality and really solve the varroa and many other bee problems.
Simon had no hobbies, having followed Henry David Thoreau’s advice to make one’s vocation and avocation one. He operated a one-man bee and wasp removal service and cared for bees in several locations. (Stinging Insects page) He also helped people overcome disease and get healthy and stay healthy.
And he wrote, with twelve books in print. He self-published, executed every part of the book process himself: conceived, wrote, edit, designed, formatted, printed, cut, bound each volume by hand. His books are in stock in a few bookstores and available from all bookstores via the ISBN system, but he sold mostly direct to the public at CharlesMartinSimon.com.
I guess before we plunge into the content it might be best to say exactly what is planned.
The bees must make their own way in some form or the other. A paraphrase from a favorite movie of mine: “They have to pay something, don’t they?” Historically, not so very long ago, the bees paid their owner, if you can say you own bees. Honey bees as livestock could make the farmer a living at one time. Things have not gone well for the bees though and we are faced with difficult times. A sideliner beekeeper with a few dozen hives is faced with having too many expenses without enough income from the effort. And honey alone might be enough to pay the costs associated with maintaining and feeding the bees but is that the sum of the venture?
So the beekeeper, in my estimation, is faced with multiple challenges to both increase marketable products and reduce expenditures. Some ideas which come to mind are specialty products of raw, unfiltered honey, comb honey, wax, propolis, pollination services, queen sales, nucleus hive sales, and pollen. Cost cutting through sustainable methods by rearing queens in house, in house woodenware manufacturing, and making seasonable splits to maintain a steady supply of bees for use in multiple bee yards.
I hope to be able to speak to the many facets of sustainable beekeeping and the seasonal chores associated with maintaining healthy bees. I’d also like to be able to publish a seasonal calendar for use by others as a guide for their own beekeeping tasks.
And finally I’d like to somehow transmit to others the art of beekeeping as I have learned it thus far. It’s one thing to read the books and memorize the tasks, but learning to read and interpret the pulse of the colony by careful observation is more challenging. Utilizing all of the beekeeper’s senses to draw correct conclusions, assess, develop a plan, impliment, and evaluate the process based on observation and intuitive skills.
Lofty goals indeed.