Farm & Garden: Gentle bees and troubled plants

A bee in the bonnet: Honeybees flit from flower to flower in Transylvania County and beyond. Photo by Nancy Adamson courtesy of Bee City USA
A bee in the bonnet: Honeybees flit from flower to flower in Transylvania County and beyond. Photo by Nancy Adamson courtesy of Bee City USA


The joy of gentle bees

The temperament of bees is something new beekeepers probably don't consider. Take my first hive, which I managed to put in the wrong spot, then invert the frames in the upper hive box. The result was seriously upset bees chasing us around the garden and stinging big time.

Faced with an ultimatum from my husband that I sort them out or get them out, I emailed George Logsdon, who organizes the Transylvania County Bee Club. The next day, he brought one of our local bee whisperers, Hale Young. Both got multiple stings just getting into their bee suits in the yard!

Hale immediately identified the problems, moved the hive and corrected my frames — all without any withering looks or sarcastic comments. Those bees settled down and made honey, but truth be told, they were aggressive from the start, and working with them was always a little nerve-wracking.

Last spring that hive dwindled and died. But help was on hand again through another Bee Club member, Marvin Holland, who recently opened the Bee Cool Bee Supply store in Pisgah Forest (see below). Remembering the difficulties I'd had with my fierce hive, he brought me a nuc (or small colony) of unbelievably gentle bees with a crossed Goldline/Minnesota Hygienic queen.

This sweet hive is still going strong in spite of my ministrations. They're imperturbable, and I hardly bother using smoke on them. Admittedly, gentle bees won't make as much honey as meaner bees, but I'm happy to sacrifice that for the joy of not stressing out every time I go near them. — submitted by Irene Timmins

Transylvania County buzz

With Colony Collapse Disorder on the rise, it's not uncommon for a beekeeper to walk out on a sunny morning and find his or her bees in distress. But unlike the family dog, you can't exactly pack up your bees and take them to the vet.

Luckily, Transylvania County has resources to help the worried beekeeper stay calm. Marvin and Sheila Holland run Bee Cool Bee Supply in Pisgah Forest and offer a wealth of beekeeping knowledge. Marvin gives expert advice and will even give your bees a house call if things get really dire.

When everything is running smoothly, a trip to Bee Cool Bee Supply offers an array of items to help keep Transylvania County's bees healthy and vibrant. The public is invited to visit Bee Cool Bee Supply at 728 Capps Road in Pisgah Forest Wednesdays through Saturdays. With specialized beekeeping equipment, seasonal honey and advice from fellow beekeepers, Marvin and Sheila Holland help keep Transylvania County’s bees buzzing. 393-8794 or beecoolbeesupply@yahoo.com.

Plant quandaries

Beginning gardeners are bound to worry when mysterious bugs overtake tomatoes or squash plants. If you don't have an old-timer neighbor to diagnose the problem, bring your wilted leaves and unknown bugs to the Extension Master Gardeners.

The Buncombe County chapter offers a free problem-solving plant clinic on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month at the WNC Farmers Market on Brevard Road. Master Gardeners will diagnose and offer solutions for troublesome garden quandaries with a smile and a kind word.

Trained volunteers can take a look at your diseased plant or conundrum-causing bug and tell you what to do to keep your veggie treasures healthy. If you can't make it to the farmers market, the public is welcome to call the Buncombe County Extension's help line (255-5522), or stop by the office on 94 Coxe Ave. in Asheville. The next problem plant clinic is scheduled for Saturday, July 13, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Over in Haywood County, master gardeners are ready share their careful research with curious gardeners every business day through Aug. 2. Queries about lawns, vegetables, flowers, trees and ornamental plants will be answered, and master gardeners are happy to help explain soil test results, which can be especially vexing for new gardeners.

The Haywood County Plant Clinic is located in the Extension Center at 589 Raccoon Road, Suite 118, in Waynesville. 456-3575.

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