Bitcoin and Honey – a Visit to Bees Brothers
This post is part of a continuing road trip series by The Art of Not Being Governed.
Having spent 12 hours on the road, it was a great relief for us to pull up to the home of Craig and Kami Huntzinger – proprieters of Bees Brothers Honey – located in the gorgeous Cache Valley in Northern Utah. Local honey and related products are fairly popular these days, so it’s nothing special to find such an outfit here. There are, however, two big things which make Bees Brothers worth the visit. First, it is run by voluntaryist anarchists, and second, they accept bitcoin.
In their own words, “Bees Brothers is a small family honey business in Cache Valley, Utah. We got started as a fun family project to learn a little more about bees. It didn’t take long for us to get more honey than we knew what to do with, and the boys started selling it at our local Farmer’s Market in Cache Valley.”
I had emailed them a few days prior to arrange for us to visit for the purpose of purchasing some honey in exchange for bitcoin. We were invited for dinner and to stay the night, but had other arrangements and so could not.
When we arrived, Craig helped my son and I put on the bee suits and we visited one of the hives. In particular, it was the one which had been hand-painted with a large and stylized bitcoin logo. Craig explained the process by which the bees collect and store the nectar and convert it to honey, and admitted, “Sometimes I don’t even bother with the smoke. The bees are pretty friendly.”
He pulled a large honeycomb out of the hive, crawling with bees who didn’t seem to notice the disturbance. When we were putting the bee suits on, I had imagined swarms of furious bees jabbing their stingers through the suit trying to get at our flesh while we furiously swatted at them with our gloved hands, but it was nothing like that. They were a little distracting, primarily because of the loud buzzing, but also because every few minutes one would fly toward my eye and my reflexes would cause me to flinch.
Craig estimated that a single hive might contain 60,000 bees, and pointed out that the hive is an example of a spontaneously ordered system.
“The queen bee shouldn’t really be called a queen. She can’t order anybody around. She just lays eggs all day. She’s more like the mom. The entire hive is completely voluntary. Nobody is forcing the bees to stay. They can leave any time they like. If they don’t want to visit flowers, they can do something else. There is no central organizer; it’s a completely cooperative and spontaneous society. There are guards, but they only protect the hive; the other bees can come and go whenever they like.”
On the subject of freedom, he admitted, “I often buy 20 or so at a time of Bastiat’s ‘The Law’ to hand out to people. It’s one of my favorite books.”
Bees Brothers produces honey in jars and bottles, honeycomb, various honey caramels, and other honey- and wax-based products. We sampled a few caramels. My wife reported that the chocolate honey caramels were the best. I don’t know whether that’s true or not; she didn’t leave any for me.
We decided to purchase a few boxes of caramels, some honey, and a stick of delightful honey lip balm. When it came time to pay, Craig gave us the total – 0.1886 btc – and pulled out a QR code. I took my phone out, logged into my coinbase app (it’s PIN protected) and scanned the QR code. I entered the total and hit send. A moment later the bitcoins were in Bees Brothers’ wallet. The entire process took less than a minute.
There is something special about buying things with bitcoin. Buying things with cash isn’t very fun. It’s hard to part with a stack of green paper that you’ve been carrying around in your pocket for a while. It’s painful. Buying things with plastic credit or debit cards is a bit more fun. Just a quick swipe, and guess what – you’ve been approved! But bitcoin is on a different level. To see the process work in real life and in real time is absolutely remarkable, almost like witnessing a miracle or seeing the future. I have found every bitcoin purchase I’ve made to be an exhilarating experience. I hope that feeling does not diminish with time.
I cannot overstate this point: bitcoin is extremely enjoyable to use. Perhaps it is because of its coercion-free nature. There are no legal tender laws for bitcoin, no federal reserve, and no men with guns. It is produced, governed, and organized totally by the market. The transaction I made with Bees Brothers was the result of thousands of voluntary market transactions, each one resulting in an increase of net wealth for humanity. There is something wonderful about using a currency built in this way. It is a glimpse of what a truly free market could be.
Between last night when we made the purchase and this morning, the value of bitcoin has climbed a few percent. I don’t mind. It was just a small amount, and I certainly would be willing to part with much more to see bitcoin become more widely used. Bees Brothers started accepting bitcoin a few years ago when bitcoins were worth just a few dollars each. Now they are worth more than $100. Bees Brothers has increased their profit margin simply by accepting a currency other than dollars.
We spent about an hour at Bees Brothers, talking about bees, bitcoin, homeschooling, regulation, Mises, and the constitution. Craig, Kami, and their family were extremely kind, very hospitable, and are certainly worth doing business with (not only because they are principled anarchists – their products are extraordinary).
Bees Brothers honey is thick, sticky, and as sweet as any honey I’ve ever tasted. It retains its consistency even in the heat of late-August Utah. Their caramels are large and succulent. You can almost taste their rejection of the State. And shipping is free.
Bees Brothers can be found at thier website http://www.beesbros.com/