Across Aroostook County this summer, John Hangen and Charlie Jewett have more than 700 beehives feeding on buckwheat, clover and other flowers and producing honey for a growing market.

Hangen and Jewett, the owners of Aroostook Valley Honey Farm, are in the midst of an annual cycle with their honey bees, spending much of spring, summer and fall in northern Maine. Since they founded the company in 2013, they’ve been selling out of their raw honey every season, as demand for natural sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup increases across the country.

“We are forever trying to keep these bees alive, and it’s not an easy task,” Hangen said at one of their temporary staging areas in Fort Fairfield. “Bears love our honey,” he said, explaining the need for a solar-powered electric fence around the hives. “They’ve done a lot of damage.”

Hangen and Jewett take the bees foraging at dozens of locations. They work with landowners to access former farmland that have since turned into meadowlands or cultivated fields of crops, such as buckwheat and sunflowers, for single varietal honeys.

“We try and pick an area with fields of wildflowers, and we spread them out on individual small farms, anywhere from Houlton to Fort Kent. We don’t like to get our bees near anything sprayed with chemicals,” Hangen said.

They bottle the honey raw at Hangen’s licensed home kitchen in Fort Fairfield and sell it through distributors across New England.

“We’re a small operation, and we try to stay small,” Hangen said. “Our main thesis is to have local honey, which contains all the natural enzymes of honey. It’s a labor of love, not a labor of financial independence.”

The two started the business when Hangen, a former Easton town manager fresh in his retirement, met Jewett, a native Floridian who had been bringing bees to northern Maine in the summer for decades and selling honey to out-of-state bottlers. Hangen started buying some of Jewett’s honey and later thought, “You know, I love this honey and I’m retired — I have nothing to do. Do you want to talk about a partnership?’”

Jewett handles much of the beekeeping with an apprentice, while Hangen bottles the honey and leads the marketing. They both join the bees — and other Maine snowbirds — in the seasonal migrations.

They arrive in Maine in the spring, with some bees going Down East to pollinate wild blueberry fields and all eventually coming to northern Maine. They stay through November and head south to overwinter in Georgia.

“If the climate would allow these hives to survive in the severe winter, we’d love to keep them here, but we can’t afford to lose 90 percent of them, which sometimes will happen if you leave them in Maine,” Hangen said.

“Not only will our bees be surviving and thriving in Georgia, but we split them when they’re too crowded for one hive,” Hangen said. “We buy another good queen, and we’ll either keep that second hive for ourselves or sell it to a beekeeper in Maine who might want a nucleus of one new hive.”

Hangen, who first came to Maine in the 1970s to work at the Aroostook Prestile Treatment District, said they’re trying to find other business partners who could use some of the wax byproduct of the honey in creations such as food wraps. They’re also looking for partners to succeed them in the honey company, after they’ve built a small but sizable operation and customer base.

“He’s in his 60s,” Hangen said of Jewett, “and I’m in my 70s, and in another five years we want to give this business to someone who will follow what we’re doing.”