Beekeeper busy, as bees begin buzzing!
MERRITT – Eastbound motorists on Hwy. 55 are all familiar with the small red-and-white ‘Bees For Sale’ sign that pops up this time of year. Once again, Terry Weaver of TJ’s Bee Farm is ready to give Mother Nature an assist.
Weaver, in a fairly short period of time, has become a major player in the beekeeping industry. Originally from Maryland, where “I made antique replicas for a very fine furniture company,” Weaver found himself in eastern North Carolina “because I like to fish.”
While running an offshore commercial fishing vessel, “I got caught in some bad storms,” and with increasing fuel prices and regulations, Weaver began to look around for other options.
His furniture skills came in handy during a stint at New Bern-based Hatteras Yachts, but some experience raising bees back in Maryland seemed right for him in this new neck of the woods.
“People get bored, they get stagnant. Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,” said Weaver.
In addition to the 50 or so hives that he supervises – just a stone’s throw from the highway – Weaver has at least three other sites nestled away in obscure corners of Pamlico County. He sells honey year-round at the New Bern Farmers Market, noting that other purveyors are usually content to sell all of their stock as quickly as possible.
“Usually, 80 percent of honey is put up between the first of April and the first of July,” said Weaver. “They (bees) love Tulip Poplars. This time of year those trees are loaded with nectar, and are heavy-duty bee friendly.”
During a brief interview, Weaver expounded at great length upon the mating habits of bees – and in particular the crucial role of the Queen Bee – of which there is only one per hive!! He said feral hives – typically found in the hollows of trees – have almost become extinct due to proliferation of the Varroa mite, “a blood-sucking thing the size of a pinhead.”
Beekeepers like Weaver use a variety of methods to keep the mite under control “but you cannot eradicate it,” which means wild colonies have become few and far between.
Again, Weaver’s furniture crafting skills are proving helpful. He makes all of the farm’s hives, and paints them bright colors “because bees go toward flowers and other colorful things.”
During a quick tour, Weaver – who sports a mane of thick gray hair – shook, dodged, and waved when several of the flying critters headed in his direction. “That’s because most of their natural enemies have hair and fur,” chuckled Weaver.
Want to know more? Call Terry Weaver at (252) 249-6170.