Busy bee

Victor Bordin

Victor Bordin, 50, who owns Bordin Bees along with his brother Richard Bordin and sister Marie Bordin-Huitt, has been selling honey, produce and flavored almonds grown at the Bordin-Huitt Ranch at local farmers’ markets for 25 years. He’s been farming for much longer—since he was 8 years old. Bordin says his kids—5 and 8 years old—are already helping out a little themselves, and that they’re “especially interested in the bees.” You can find the Bordin-Huitt booth at the Saturday Farmers’ Market and the Thursday Night Market in Chico, at the Tuesday Farmers’ Market in Paradise, and at various harvest festivals around the state during the fall.

How do you like farming?

It’s a lot of work but it’s very satisfying. Farming is not easy and everything is expensive, including the machinery, irrigation and feeding the bees.

What’s your biggest-selling product?

The honey, but the produce is a close second. Their sales offset each other seasonally. We have 6,000 bee hives in Butte County, but we also have 80 acres of almonds and 30 acres of vegetables. People really like the honey because it’s raw and unfiltered. The darker it is, the richer. Most stores filter it and remove many of the vitamins and nutrients. We sell it in everything from little, straw-sized sticks to large jars. People [buy] it to eat in the winter, and in the spring they often buy it, along with our bee pollen, to relieve their allergies. It gives you a lot of protein and energy.

What produce sells best?

[People] like our pickling cucumbers. They’re really crisp and flavorful. But we sell everything—like tomatoes, sweet corn, bell peppers, zucchini and squash.

You have a lot of almonds. How many varieties do you sell?

We have 35 flavors, including chocolate-covered almonds. But we don’t sell the chocolate ones before Thanksgiving because during the warmer months they melt.

How difficult is caring for bees?

It’s a lot of work, and it’s tough just keeping them alive. When I was young, it wasn’t a problem, but now every winter we lose 20 to 35 percent of them. It’s a problem all over the country. I’m convinced it’s because of pesticides and fungicides, but the big chemical companies deny it. A great TV show exposing it this year was Buzzkill, narrated by Dan Rather. We try to keep ours alive using pollen substitutes like liquid sugar and protein patties, which make them live longer and produce more bees.

Do you get stung much?

Sure, I get stung maybe 20 to 30 times a day, but it doesn’t bother me. I wear a bee suit with a veil and gloves, but they can still sting through them.