There is a quiet street in Hazelwood, North Carolina where Rich and Diane Byers keep an apiary of honeybees. Rich is the Vice-President of the Haywood County Beekeepers Club and his quiet voice makes him a perfect beekeeper’s mentor . Besides working his hives, Rich teaches his grandson about bees, guides him in building his own hive, and on occasion, he receives calls to mentor new beekeepers.
I called Rich and asked if it would be okay to visit his apiary and conduct a little bee education to prepare for the apiary I was about to set up. He said, “sure, come on over,” and when I arrived, he took me on the grand tour, We conducted some hive management on the first two hives and extracted several frames for inspection, where Rich found eggs and larvae in the comb. Next, he handed the frame of bees to this new beekeeper and I inspected it as I learned about identifying the various stages of bee development. Rich commented that he believed his third hive was without a queen, because previous activity was low and the bees were stinging him every time he opened this hive. As we progressed into the inspection process of this last hive, we found eggs and larva in many of the comb cells. Surprise, there is an egg laying queen somewhere inside. This discovery meant the hive could be thriving and healthy.
This beekeeper and his gracious wife made me feel at home and after working the hives we had some refreshment on the back porch. Rich brought out his “log book” to show how he tracks each hive and his process is quite impressive. The Byers sell honey from their apiary, whenever it is available.
Finally, by the time my own bees arrived on April 15, Rich’s apiary grew to six hives. He conducted a “split” of one healthy hive and established two more from “swarms” he captured, as the result of receiving calls earlier. I invited him to come over and monitor my two hive installations, along with taking some video, and he graciously agreed to assist me. That’s the kind of beekeeper I know Rich Byers to “bee,” willing to help those who are getting started and excited to see new beekeepers learning.
Thank you Rich for giving this new beekeeper some guidance on setting up a new apiary.