Welcome to our April Member Highlight. Please welcome Mr. Mark McCarter, Past President and Mrs. Ellen McCarter Past Secretary, as we learn more about their interests.
What made you decide to keep bees?
We had planted 15 assorted fruit trees and did not see that many bees around. Every day I would drive by Pete Whitley’s bees and wanted to ask him about them. At that time, I did not know him. That would soon change. One day on the way to work I saw the sign at the Ag Center welcoming the members to the NC State Beekeepers to their Spring State Meeting. When I got to work, I asked for the afternoon off, went to the meeting and was absolutely amazed about what they were talking about. It was the closest thing to sitting in College biology class that I had done in years.
How many hives did you start with? 4I met Bill Smith at that meeting and bought my first nuc from him that following week. Back then, if they were doing beekeeping classes, I was not aware of them.
How many years have you had bees? 16
How many hives do you have now? 8 (at one time we had 26)
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in caring for bees? They need help. (Also, a bee suit is really hot in the summer).
We have met many excellent beekeepers and while some have passed, new ones are now taking their place.
What bee products do you make? Honey, wax candles, lip balm, honey bars. We make mead and food for personal use.
How and where do you sell them? We sell by word of mouth, festivals, where we work, and in some stores when we have a surplus.
What would you like your fellow beekeepers to know about you? Ellen has a long North Carolina family history. Mark was relocated by PLP from California in 1994. The two of us met at PLP. Ellen has a son, Jason, that has just graduated from Pfeiffer, got married, and is teaching math at the early college in Cabarrus County. We are doing what we can to care for Ellen’s Mother and Father in their later years. We have four dogs, three cats, 26 chickens and a 50 gallon aquarium of tropical fish.
Since joining the SCBA, between the two of us, we have held just about every office in the club until this year. It is nice taking a break.
Do you treat your bees? Natural versus treatment free? Why?
We are always trying to use the least harmful method of treatment, but that has had its downfall at times.
Do you use queen excluders? Why or why not?
We only use queen excluders when we put an empty super of drawn comb on the hive that does not have a super of honey/nectar separating it from brood area. We do not use one when new foundation is above the brood area.
Do you use screened bottom board or screened top boards?
We use open screened bottom boards in the summer.
Where do you buy your sugar? We buy 50 lb. bags at Costco or Sam’s Club.
Are you interested in becoming/or have you passed the following beekeepers levels:
Certified beekeeper —– Mark has passed written and practical test
When do you do when you’re not caring for your bees?
Mark has been a Chemist at Preformed Line Products for 32 years. Ellen works for Edward Jones Investments. We have 600 various grape vines between our two properties, as well as fruit and pecan trees. We want to start a winery in the near future. We enjoy our garden and Ellen does a lot of canning and freezing of what we harvest. We also get a lot of blueberries from our 20+ plants that she cooks with and I use to make blueberry mead. (melomel)