Trapping is one way to start a new hive—and hobby
SINCE I WAS A CHILD, I’ve always wanted to explore beekeeping. About 40 years ago, I stumbled upon a beehive in an old oak tree while bow hunting in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Since that day bees and beekeeping for honey have periodically crept into my mind. So when I learned that a fishing buddy, Dean McCoy, is a beekeeper and makes and bottles 100% pure honey at McCoy’s Buffalo Apiary, I buzzed him with questions.
Eventually the conversation led to trapping bees to make new hives—something I had never heard of. McCoy says he traps bees in special swarm traps he builds himself. These swarm traps are used to attract a swarm of bees that are already looking for a new home. The trapped bees are then taken back to the apiary to live and create honey.
I made a trip to Draffenville in Marshall County to interview Dean and watch him set a swarm trap in an area where a few bees had been seen.
“Bees will swarm naturally as they outgrow the hive, or their hive is destroyed or contaminated in some way,” McCoy says. “A portion of the worker bees will leave their original hive to begin a new one with a queen. Most of the time it is an old queen, but sometimes it can be with a new queen.”
McCoy says that beekeeping is “amazing,” and a rewarding experience that always offers new opportunities to learn about the process.
“Beekeeping never gets old. Each season is different and learning about and studying bees will keep you going. The honey is great, but is secondary to keeping the bees and watching them work. It is something that has always fascinated me,” he says.
McCoy tells me one of the best things he ever did was join a local beekeeping group—in his case, the Clarks River Beekeepers Association in Benton. He says associations can help newbies learn a lot in a short amount of time.
“Beekeeping is such a complex hobby that the learning curve is huge,” he says. “With a beekeeping group you can receive mentorship from other beekeepers and learn about the intricacies of local bees.”
If you’re interested in beekeeping, the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association’s website, https://kybees.org, is filled with information on beekeeping, including online education as well as a list of local beekeeping clubs in your area.
KEN MCBROOM, an outdoors writer/photographer, created RamblingAngler.com. McBroom grew up in Lynchburg, Tennessee, and now lives in western Kentucky.