The Bees

The Bees:

We initially started as Apis Mellifera ligustica (Italian bees), but over the years, we’ve had various strains of queens introduced trying to breed a bee that was gentle to work with, produced honey and survived the winter. So, we’re now probably better classified as mutts. We’re pretty happy here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge in Madison County, VA, and our beekeeper takes very good care of us!


The Beekeeper:

Shirley has been keeping bees for 10 years. She’s recently retired, which worked out well, since work was interfering with all her hobbies. In addition to beekeeping, Shirley loves creating stained glass pieces, knitting, motorcycle riding and gardening (whew!). She started making soap a few years ago as a way to use the beeswax and it’s now become a passion. Her oft repeated quote when people ask her about soap making: “if you can bake a cake, you can make soap.”


The Support Staff:

Ralph is a retired Virginia State Trooper and is the “brawn” in the bee yard. He has become very attached to the bees and can be counted on to do the heavy lifting, especially during the honey harvest. Ralph loves to ride motorcycles, when his wife isn’t in the bee yard.


The Quality Control Staff:

Zoe, a black lab rescue dog, has a healthy respect for the bees and like her predecessor, Zeke, monitors all the work in the beehives from a distance. Since bees perceive big, black, moving objects as bears (and we do get bears visiting the hives every spring), she quickly learned to conduct all hive monitoring at a maximum distance. Her hobbies include patrolling for terrorist squirrels, defending against invasions from deer in the garden, and supervising all activities in the kitchen.