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More MS news articles for December 2003

Honey bees make for a sweet deal for farmers

November 27, 2003
Mandy Spikes
Central Texas Edition, Country World

Since 1888, the Weaver family has been a prominent name in the honey bee business. While many members of the family have branched out to start their own apiaries, they all know how their family got started in the business and how important honey bees are to agriculture.

"In 1888 my husband Danny's great grandparents received as a wedding present, ten honey bee hives," explained Laura Weaver, co-owner of Bee Weaver Apiaries, Inc. "Danny's great uncles were all bee keepers in Grimes County and they thought this would make a good gift that would benefit them in the long run."

In 1926 the family began selling not only the honey produced but the bees and queens as well. From that main operation, many smaller Weaver operations branched out. "Our operation is just one apiary. There are several branches of Weaver apiaries around Navasota; many of us are only a few blocks away from each other."

The Weavers know how helpful bees are with agriculture. "We are trying to make the world a better place. Bees are great at helping with agriculture. They are our source of pollination. The impact that bees make on the environment is positive."

Weaver added, "Honey helps with apotherapy for people with multiple sclerosis and arthritis. It's also a good barrier for people who have third degree burns. They are wholesome creatures who make a wholesome product."

Broadening on the various products bee enthusiasts can enjoy, Weaver has also started a line of merchandise called Bee Goods. "We are trying to create bee enthusiasts with our merchandise. We are also hoping to educate people about bees with our clothing. Bees are neat creatures and we want other people to enjoy them as well."

The most distinctive characteristic of a honey bee, explained Weaver, is that these bees make a honey crop. They are excellent pollinators, being responsible for $15 billion of annual pollination. "One out of every three bites of food benefits from honey bee pollination," she said. Honey bees are also the only bee able to make commercial quantities of wax as a by-product.

"There are three types of honey bee. There are queens, worker bees, and drones." The worker bees, which are females that are too young to be fertile, are the only honey bee to have a stinger. Drones, which are the males, only have one job - to mate with queen bees. "Drones will not mate with the queen in his own hive, because that is his mother," she explained.

When dealing with the issue of the dangers of bee stings, Weaver said it all depends on if the person is allergic to the sting. "Bee stings are a part of life. There are many myths that all bees are dangerous, but that is because of killer bee movies that are out there to frighten people.

"Honey bees are only dangerous if you are wrecking their home. They are like any other wild animal. They will mind their own business as long as you mind yours."

For those interested in starting their own apiary, Weaver has this piece of advice: "Go to work with a bee keeper first to make sure this is what you want to do. Like all agricultural businesses, it has its share of ups and downs. You have to be out there in all types of weather. It's a great life, but make sure that it's the type of life you want."

Copyright © 2003, Echo Publishing Company