Written by Suzanne Conway
Photos by Steve Babin
In honor of National Honeybee Day on August 21, meet local beekeeper and Huntsville native, Bill Elliott. Bill is a Master Beekeeper, with apiaries in Blossomwood, Redstone Arsenal and near Harvest. Bill shares some of his extensive knowledge with HUNTSVILLE EVENT – and tells us why bees are oh so cool.
How did you get involved in beekeeping?
My first experience with bees happened when I was about nine years old at summer camp. I remember watching a beekeeper smoke a hive to remove some honey frames. He let us poke our fingers into the combs of honey to taste it. It was so good! That memory never left me and led me to ask questions to every beekeeper I came
How many hives do you currently have- and how much honey do you produce annually?
I currently manage around 70 colonies of bees including 10 large hives for honey production, 15 smaller nucleus colonies used for resources to make additional colonies and 52 colonies used for producing queens (which I sell to local beekeepers.) My honey production colonies produced over 900 pounds (75 gallons) of honey last year. I am expecting to harvest over 1000 pounds this year.
Why are bees cool?
A single bee lives 45 days and will produce about 1/12 of a teaspoon (or 5 drops) of honey in their lifetime.
Bees make 1600 round trips to produce about one ounce
of honey, traveling up to six miles away and travelling the equivalent of four times around the world to produce two pounds of honey!
There is only one queen per colony, and she will lay 1500- 1700 eggs per day in the Spring- about an egg every minute. If she is lost or killed, the colony can make a new queen from any newly hatched worker in about 15 days.
The brood nest in the hive is maintained at 93 degrees year-round. The bees will warm the hive in the winter and cool the hive in the summer to maintain that temperature.
To learn more, visit www.blossomwoodhoney.com