Welcome to our July Member Highlight. Please welcome Mr. Joe Smith, our Vice-President, as we learn more about his interests.
What made you decide to keep bees? In the early 60’s when I was 8 or 9 my grandfather Sam had one hive; he kept them beside the road in toward the house but back in the woods. He would take me with him in June when it was harvest time. I would pull the wagon and watch while he took out frames and cut honey comb into a white enamel metal pan. We would pull the wagon back down the road then hand pick out the bees stuck in the honey before Grandma would let us in the house, I don’t ever recall being stung, we did this for 4 or 5 years.
When I settled and got a house I always thought of how I enjoyed watching the bees and of course really enjoyed the sweet treat they provided.
How many hives did you start with? I started out with 2 hives of Midnight bees from the Sears and Roebuck Company in 1982 but did not know the first thing about beekeeping. My father-in-law had kept bees before so we built our own hives, he set up one also. I will say they were very gentle bees but did not make a lot of honey. Of course looking in them every 3 to 4 days may have had something to do with that.
In 1985 I found out we had a bee club in Stanly County and a state bee organization. I started to attend meetings and talk to other beekeepers. I got away from the gentle bees and into Italian and Carniolan bees with much better results. After building up to 25+ hives and struggling to move the honey produced by that many hives I settled to 3 to 7 hives for my hobby.
How many years have you had bees? 30 years
How many hives do you have now? Currently I have 3 hives
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in caring for bees?
- In dealing with a living thing you can never be sure of ANYTHING.
- That being said the most important thing is to not be a bee-haver but a beekeeper. Watch them but don’t interfere with them unless you see problems developing.
- KEEP A YOUNG QUEEN IN THE HIVE.
- Know what you are going to do before lighting your smoker. What are you looking to find?
- When you find it close them up and get out.
What bee products do you make? Honey –Wax-Mead
How and where do you sell them? From home, Asheboro Zoo, work place (except the mead can not sell it).
What would you like your fellow beekeepers to know about you? I enjoy working with people, I am happy to help if you have a problem with your hive or to put on a program if you have a group who needs one. Don’t know a lot but do know when to call some one else for help!
Do you treat your bees? Natural versus treatment free? Why? I try to follow IMP (INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT) practices: use screened bottom boards, drone brood frames get frozen at least two times (early and mid summer) during the year, use hygienic queens, pull queens in mid-summer to break brood cycle, and I sample for varroa.
By doing this if samples of varroa drop but are still get too high, then a chemical treatment should be used; there are several on the market. But I do like to pull the Queen to a nuke hive with two frames while it is administered.
Nothing good happens for the queen when she is exposed to treatments. (In my opinion)
Do you use queen excluders? Why or why not? If I want to make a few racks of cut comb I will use a excluder other wise no. I extract and reuse the super comb and have had no real problems doing this.
Do you use screened bottom board or screened top boards? Bottoms yes; tops no
Where do you buy your sugar? 50 lb bags from Sam’s club
I am a NCSBA Master beekeeper.