Monday, April 5, 2010

A visit with my buddy Jared and his Old Salem bee colonies!

This past Saturday, I had the chance to hang out with my buddy, Jared Watkins, at his house in Winston Salem. In case you've never been there, Winston Salem is the home of Old Salem, a beautifully restored Moravian community from the mid-late 1700s. One thing I've always remembered about the tours of Old Salem are the gift shops...complete with wonderful smelling old-time beeswax candles. If you're ever in North Carolina, check it out. Its a great place to visit.

Anyway, Jared blogs Jared's Adventure Into Beekeeping and he just got his first two hives over the last few weeks. Just like all of us, he is excited about his new bees and wanted me to come see them for myself. Jared has the hives on the deck behind his house and they seem to be adapting well there. These were walk-away splits from a nearby they're already accustomed to the general area and the climate. I think Jared told me there are around 100 hives in this apiary and he got his bees from the two splits.

When we got to the deck, we were greeted by Jared's girls. As I mentioned, he has two hives there, and the ones in the picture to the right are very well tempered. I stood right in front of the deck in my street clothes - my face pressed between the spokes along the railing - and they acted like they could care less. Jared said that he uses little smoke with them because they're so gentle, and he did the same thing when I was there for the visit...hardly any smoke at all. Although he did smoke them under the lid, not a single one flew out in anger when we popped the top off. And it was obvious the colony was working and drawing comb and doing what they're supposed to be doing. This is one great colony. 

His newest colony is a bit of a different story. They're a little hot tempered and Jared had already warned me about them. We put our protective gear on in his basement, and as we went on the deck and Jared was lighting his smoker, one of the bees from this hive flew off the front and right at my face. Luckily I didn't get stung, and that's when I knew it was time to put my veil on. It was amazing to observe the dispositions of the two colonies. The first was just fine and made little noise. But the second one was ramped up and the buzzing had gotten pretty loud by the time we finished. You could tell they were tuned up and totally irritated by us being there. But Jared told me that this particular colony had issues at their old location, and I told him that maybe they just need some time to settle in and maybe their disposition will change. Maybe once the queen gets cranked up and as the natural cycle of the colony replaces itself, maybe it will get better. If not, it may be time to re-queen. 

Overall, Jared has a really great set-up and you can tell he really loves beekeeping. He spent the weekend planting all sorts of bee friendly plants around his house, and can name every single one of them without looking at the labels. His test to be a certified beekeeper is coming up and he's excited about that too. I think that Jared will be a great and conscientious beekeeper who will make a dent in the beekeeping world. And he is already involved in the Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) program too. That was the one day course that Jared, our friend Lynn (Walter Bee) and I attended. Jared is already registered as one of North Carolina's participating apiaries.

Thanks for the good time Jared. And good luck with your girls!


  1. Thanks Mark. You beat me to the posting. I really appreciated your help, it is nice to have an extra set of hands to work a camera and hold frames.

    Let me know when to head over to your place to give you a hand with your split and inspection.

  2. Have a good job,I hope your bees will devolep very fastly,best wishes.

  3. I have many, many fond memories of Old Salem. It's a great place to live and visit. Sounds like Jared is well on his way to being a great beekeeper. I'm envious I couldn't have joined you guys.

    I've been incredibly busy - I have 12 new baby chicks. Got them yesterday when they were just a day old. I'm trying my best to get back to the computer to post, but the weather is just too gorgeous to be inside. Think of you often and hope all is well - especially with your brother.




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