In recent weeks, we discovered a “feral beehive” on our property. Apparently this is the term used to describe a non-domestic hive — as in not managed, according to Keith Rowand, a knowledgeable local beekeeper.
Our hive is in a rather large old and wizened walnut tree, thriving deep inside a gaping knothole in the tree trunk’s midsection. The discovery got me to reading about bees and about the colony collapse disorder believed to be caused by loss of habitat, parasitic mites and the high toxicity of (ubiquitous) chemical use. The dwindling number of bees in the world severely impacts crops, which they pollinate. Since our hive appears ready to swarm (to break off and create a new queen and colony), a good friend, Sherry Stewart, has situated an empty wooden hive box near the tree and baited it with lemongrass essential oil, in the hope of attracting the new colony.
I’ve recently learned too of the massive effort to pollinate crops around the country, in which tractor trailer trucks can be seen transporting colonies of bees hundreds of miles cross-country to pollinate. So it was with great interest, just as I was engaged in all about bees, that I learned that here in our little hamlet of Sperryville, Cindy DeVore of Valley Green Naturals is doing her share to help the bee population.
According to Cindy: “Since the inception of our company we have purchased 50-pound pails of raw honey locally to make our skincare products. Now, however, we’ve started our own beekeeping enterprise, and the honey will be used in the manufacture of Valley Green Natural products.”
Staff has been working overtime to come out with a new line of products from whose revenue, 1 percent will be donated to Earth Justice, a legal defense fund dedicated to environmental protection. “As they say,” Cindy says, “no bees … no food.” Cindy’s husband Art DeVore can be seen in the photo here transferring bee colonies to their new hives.
A growing number of folks in Rappahannock are beekeepers, and our county is rich with resident experts and knowledgeable bee specialists; Bob Duxbury of Amissville and Keith Rowand of Harris Hollow, for example, the latter a self described “sideliner” as he has more than 10 colonies but less than 50. He’s managed 19 colonies this year, including the five at the Inn at Little Washington, two belonging to Glen Gordon Manor, two at Goat Hill, and others scattered around the county. The honey is for sale at Heritage Hollow Farm store, Triple Oak Bakery and R.H. Ballard.
According to Keith, Rappahannock is a natural sanctuary for bees because of “our commitment to organic farming, and our diverse habitat.” He also pointed out that Rappahannock has a number of nationally renowned bee experts in residence, including Ann Harman and Bob Wellemeyer. The seminal guide that Harman co-authored and edited, “The ABC & XYZ of Bee Cultures,” is in its 41st edition. Wellemeyer, of Windsong Apiaries, is a regional apiary inspector with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, a noted speaker and owner of more than 200 colonies.
Good news: It’s not Inoperable!
On another note, I’d like to apologize to Duane Siler and his band The Improbables — not the Inoperables, as I said in last week’s coverage of the Sperryville United Methodist Church’s centennial worship service. His message to me was so charming I thought I’d share it:
Thanks for doing the lovely report in the Rappahannock News on Sperryville United Methodist’s centennial worship service and celebration. I just wanted to let you know that my band is The Improbables (not the Inoperables, which sounds kind of grim — though maybe a good name for a death metal band). We originally called ourselves The Improbables because of the unlikely circumstances that brought our trio together (Julie, Keith and me) and because it was highly improbable that I should ever end up being one of the lead singers in a band!
However, I think the name also fits with some of our repertoire having a religious focus. Quite a few of our originals and covers deal with grace. What could be more improbable than the mysteries we embrace in our Christian faith? We had a great time playing to an appreciative audience at Tula’s a couple of weeks ago and we’ll be back there on Saturday evening, Sept. 19. If you have a chance, come by and hear our more secular music. Best regards, Duane Siler.