Beekeeping, apiarist Pepe Coria will tell you, is all about “chasing the bloom,” the constant relocation of hives so their winged residents have access to fresh pollen. In December, following years of performing this labor-intensive work by hand, the Mountain View Farmers’ Market honey vendor traveled from his home in Riverbank to North Dakota to purchase the forklift that would spare his back and his time. There was significantly less work to complete, however, when Coria returned to California with his new tool.
“When I came back, it was like a carpet of dead bees everywhere,” he said.
Approximately 340 of Coria’s 400 or so hives were lost, a financial catastrophe he has estimated at between $90,000 and $240,000 due to lost pollination fees, loss of honey production and the cost of restocking bees. Although Coria may never know who was responsible, the theory is someone sprayed or dusted pesticides near the 600-acre Stockton property he used to winter his bees before renting them to Central Valley farmers for crop pollination.
With help from the California Farmers’ Market Association and its customers, however, Coria is making strides toward a comeback; a GoFundMe page published approximately a month ago to raise $10,000 for his business has generated more than $5,350 from 109 donors as of Monday.
“Pepe and his sweet family have been making my delicious honey for years and years,” wrote one donor in a published comment. “I support them and all beekeepers. When bees thrive, we thrive. God bless you, Pepe!”
Spreading the word
Coria’s parents began selling produce at area farmers’ markets, including those in San Leandro and San Jose, approximately 35 years ago. He’s been beekeeping for more than 16 years and started selling his nine varieties of honey at the Mountain View market three years ago and at the Saratoga one last year.
“The farm was primarily fruits and vegetables and then Pepe started the beekeeping because he has a real passion for bees and keeping the bee population alive,” said Kayla Hayden, market manager of the Los Altos and Mountain View farmers’ markets. “So not only does he make honey, but he rents out his bees for pollinating to surrounding farmers around him in the valley. So his production is really important – not to just his farm, but to all the farms that use his bees for pollinating their crops.”
With some of last year’s honey harvest remaining to sell, Coria plans to continue working at area markets, but he expects his supply will eventually dwindle. He said he is thankful to Hayden and the farmers’ market association for spreading the word about his struggles and to his loyal customer base – as well as supporters he doesn’t even know – for their donations.
“I’m blessed,” he said. “It almost brings a knot to my throat, and I want to cry because you don’t expect this from a complete stranger.”
Coria’s goal is to eventually amass 5,000 hives, 1,000 for each member of his family. Doing so, he said, means he and his wife will be able to send their three children to college one day.
“It’s going to take a lot of work, but I’m willing because I have big dreams, and I’m not going to let my dreams get crushed from this little incident,” he said.
To donate money, visit the Coria Farms GoFundMe page at tinyurl.com/CoriaFarmBees. To “donate” an undesired, nuisance bee swarm, contact Coria at
For more information on California Farmers’ Market Association markets, including the Mountain View market on Sundays, visit cafarmersmkts.com.