The art of beekeeping has been practiced for many years. It is the controlled raising of bees to collect honey. Some people choose it as a hobby; others practice it for profit. Beekeeper Michael Laws, 52, of Kitts, said you have to have a great deal of knowledge before engaging in this interesting hobby.
“Eighty percent of the foods we consume are insect pollinated,” said Laws. “Honeybees pollinate approximately 30 percent of those plants. So for every third bite of food you eat, you have a honey bee to thank.”
Honey bees provide pollination for crops, orchards and flowers; honey and wax for cosmetics, food and medicinal-religious objects and inspiration to artists, architects and scientists.
“I became interested in beekeeping when my dad, Lee, began keeping bees,” said Laws. “I didn’t pursue that interest until much later in life. One day, I went with my dad down to Pineville to buy some bees and while there I decided it was time for me to try my hand at beekeeping so I purchased one hive to start.”
Laws said he constructs his own hives and now has 10 hives and over a million bees. He said generally when you buy a brood box to begin beekeeping you get one queen bee and 30,000 to 40,000 nurse and worker bees.
“I obtained some of my beekeeping knowledge from my father, but the majority of it came from Burl Estep, of Cumberland,” said Laws. “He’s what I call a master beekeeper — been in it for the past 16 to 17 years. If you ever have a question about bees or beekeeping all you have to do is ask Burl, he has all the answers in his head. He knows it through and through.”
Laws said the first year he extracted honey from his hives he got approximately 50 quarts. Last year he got over 100 quarts. This year he was able to extract approximately 160 quarts.
“You definitely have to be interested in bees and know how to handle them to be in this business,” said Laws.”There are different types of honey. Me, I like the fall honey best because it is darker and I think it tastes better. A lot of people like the spring and summer honey because it is lighter. It just all depends on individual tastes.”
Anyone interested in purchasing honey may call Laws at 573-7879 or Facebook him with a message. Anyone interested in beekeeping may contact the Harlan County Extension Office to inquire about their beekeeper’s club.
Laws, who is retired, said he and his wife, Cathy, have three children and one granddaughter. Cathy is a licensed practical nurse at the Harlan Health and Rehabilitation Center.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at email@example.com