McClaughry Farms

Know your Beekeeper!

Welcome to McClaughry Farms and our website.

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McClaughry Farms started back in the late 70's when Gary and Lois McClaughry moved from the Bay Area to Grass Valley with their infant son Gary Jr. They lived in a small one bedroom house on the outskirts of town with their 10 bee hives that made the trip with them. Grass Valley is a beautiful, rural small foothills town at the 2400' elevation of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. A great place to raise children and bees, a lousy place to find employment in the late 70s. With her office skills, Lois found a job 27 miles away in Auburn. Gary, despite his good work ethic, was unable to find a job at a retail grocery store, the industry he had worked at while living in the Flatlands. While Lois worked, Gary was a house-husband, taking care of Gary Jr and his bees. After splitting the original 10 hives, a year and half later he had 50 hives distributed between several locations around Nevada County. One Friday night, Lois balanced the checkbook and discovered an error- more checks had been mailed out to pay bills than there was money in the account to cover them. Pay Day was over a week away. Back then you had several days to deposit the money after writing the check. Gary wrote one more bad check to buy some canning jars and filled them with honey he had extracted and was storing in the basement. Gary suggested they vend the honey at the new Grower's Market, which had just opened at the Fairgrounds. That first attempt at selling honey was a success, all the checks were covered and they even earned enough extra to celebrate at the Colfax Burger King, with Gary Jr getting a Star Wars collectable mug.

Gary in the early in the days, uncapping and extracting honey at the kitchen table with his two-frame hand-cranked extractor. Circa late 1970's.

The Family grew over the years with the birth of Allison and the increase of hives each spring. Eventually Gary got a job at a local supermarket. Lois also found local employment. The one bedroom house was too small so they moved to the Cedar Ave house where Gary and Lois still live today.
Over the years, Garys bee business grew to 250 hives that he worked on the side for pollination and honey production, while working at the grocery store. 17 years later the store closed and once again Gary was unemployed. McClaughry Farms Honey was availale now at most local stores as well as every Saturday at the Growers Market. Pollination prices had risen over the years so why not become a full time beekeeper? McClaughry Farms became a full time job, but unfortunately not a profitable one. Every year brought with it new problems and setbacks. First the tracheal mites struck with over 50% losses the first year. Just when it appeared that they were under control, the varroa mites infested the hives. That first year again over 50% of the hives were lost. After a few years of treatment the mites developed a resistance to the controls and McClaughry Farms suffered 75% losses before the mites were once again brought under control. The empty hives were stacked up and all the comb was destroyed that summer by wax moths. With less than 100 active hives, Gary set out to once again build a bee business while Lois supported the family.

Several years and new set backs resolved, Gary had built McClaughry Farms back up to a 400+ hive operation, pollinating and producing gourmet Sierra Foothills Honey. Then came that fateful day July 31, 2011, while driving on highway 49 to Roseville to make a Honey delivery, Gary and Lois were hit head on by another car. Both suffered multiple injuries and spent over a month in the hospital. With a broken leg, foot, and back, there was no way Gary could tend to the bees. The first couple of months, the bees were on their own. Honey was not pulled, bears destroyed hives and the mites were not controlled. Friends helped make the honey deliveries but the hives were neglected. After being released from the hospital, still in a rigid back brace for his broken back and using a walker, Gary went to work at the Honey House, directing once again the ressurection of McClaughry Farms. Chris and Nick were hired as the first two employees, who under Gary's direction salvaged about half the hives. The rest were stacked and made ready for new bees the next spring. All winter long they scraped and reconditioned all the old damaged bee equipment from past disasters. 2011 saw 200 good hives go into almond pollination.

Then came the four years of drought in California as well as the arrival of Colony Collapse Disorder and the Small Hive Beetles. 2015 saw a rise in mite problems and winter losses of 40% to 70% in the bee industry of the United States. We had our losses, fortunately they were less than average. By the end of April 2016 we had restarted all the lost hives and were continuing to make splits to increase our hives to meet the growing demand for McClaughry Farms gourmet honey! Follow us on Facebook and see what we are doing- successes or whatever else fate throws at us this time. We always have said "If beekeeping was easy everyone would do it". Now you know the beekeeper responsible for that jar of McClaughry Farms Honey.

I hope to get to know you all, as you get to know your beekeeper!

Gary McClaughry

©2016 McClaughry Farms

Nevada County's source for Local Honey - Pollination Services - Honeybees - Queens - Nucs - Pollen - Raw Honey - Wax - Propolis
13465 Colfax Hwy
Grass Valley, California 95945

How do you know your honey is pure unless you know your beekeeper?

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