Buzzing about bees
The honey is addictive. With another sample-stick, I plunge the end into the jar of honey. Taste buds are budding. Eyes are wide. Sweet tooth is happy.
David Bailey encourages another taste. Bailey is the owner of Bailey Bee Supply in the Daniel Boone mercantile center in Hillsborough. He is a 1985 graduate of Orange High School and the former, 30-year owner of Bailey Landscaping in Hillsborough. “The economy was a roller coaster I did not want to ride any longer,” Bailey said of his transition from mowing grass and pruning shrubs. Now Bailey is riding the natural process and magic of honeybees as his new found calling in life.
“I have always been interested in nature and really fascinated with bees,” Bailey said. Two years ago, he attended bee school and learned the craft of managing bees and the nuances and balances of working with the many factors that both threaten and nurture honeybees.
The idea for his bee supply shop was from legendary beekeeper Jack Tapp. “I purchased the bee supply part this past January and opened my shop as a place novice and expert beekeepers can find all things needed to raise and nurture bees,” Bailey said.
They sell honey, too. “I work with local beekeepers and I am always seeking suppliers to sell honey, here,” says Bailey. Inside his shop, the north wall is lined with honey of all consistencies and flavors. He also has all the necessary equipment and tools needed to maintain hives and build hives. “We sell everything here, except bees. However, we do supply bees, just not from inside the shop,” Bailey said.
Though he sells to fellow beekeepers, Bailey also spends his time managing some 40 hives, of his own. “Each hive has about 45,000 bees, and one queen,” Bailey said.
The science of beekeeping fascinates Bailey. He explains that bees pollinate more than 60 percent of the food we eat.
According to Bailey, the spring and early summer are the best times to begin beehives, as it is easier for the bees to find food. His interest in bees and supplying beekeeping supplies to others has allowed Bailey to share his knowledge and the skills he has learned with others.
“We are offering beekeeping classes here at the shop. The idea is that anyone that has an interest in beekeeping can come here and learn all the aspects of how to keep bees and get started with this very rewarding project,” Bailey said.
The classes are taught in his shop, and there is also a field day where students go to live hives and put their education and skills to work. Of the more interesting aspects that Bailey shares about bees is the fact that if the queen bee die, the hive-bees know within an hour.
“It is one of the mysteries of nature, how the rest of the bees know that the queen is dead and that they know what needs to be done, for the hive survivability,” Bailey said. The magic of pollination and the resulting product of sweet honey is something that Bailey speaks of fondly. Bailey explains that he is most fascinated that bees are such good custodians of their hives. “They are spotless, inside,” Bailey said.
Of working with bees, Bailey smiles and acknowledges that it is best to wear protective clothing to avoid being stung. However, he also finds that working with the bees, during those times when he does not wear protective equipment, are some of the most peaceful moments of his life. “To come to a hive and to control your breathing and heart rate and to be calm and peaceful is very rewarding. It is almost as though the bees trust and they know I am not going to do harm,” Bailey said. “When I am working with the bees, I am focused and there are no other distractions in my world at that moment.”
Like the creatures he works with, Bailey keeps his shop clean and tidy and he interacts with customers and shares in their interest in bees. “This is a hobby that has developed into something more,” he said. “I really hope to one day expand and have all aspects of bee supply and honey production under one roof.”
For more information, contact www.baileybeesupply.com or visit Bailey Bee Supply on Facebook.
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