Gary Farmer, Harlan County

Gary Farmer, Harlan County

Gary Farmer, Harlan County

Gary Farmer, Harlan County Buzzing about bees

Harlan County school board member Gary Farmer believes that eastern Kentucky needs more beekeepers.

“I wish more people would get into it like me,” he said. “We really need more beekeepers everywhere, especially in eastern Kentucky.”

A combination of opportunity and interest got the 21-year school board member started in part-time beekeeping. His wife’s uncle was a lifelong beekeeper and gave him some of his extra beekeeping supplies. And, as he watched news coverage about bee die-off, he realized, “Bees play an important role in our crops and produce.”

“I started with one hive and have had as high as six hives, and currently I’ve got four,” Farmer said. “It’s a tough business, especially when you work and don’t have all the time to devote to it. … There’s a lot involved in it.”

The most difficult part of the business now is the loss of hives to what is called colony collapse disorder, he said. Each of his hives has between 10,000 and up to 30,000 bees. Farmer has been stung – “Not very often – I get it once or twice a year and it’s my fault when I do, not taking precautions like you should.”

Because he is a part-time beekeeper – he works full-time as a field service supervisor for the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services – he simply tries to break even, and sells honey to neighbors and co-workers. “You can sell every jar of honey you get and you’ll never meet the demand for honey,” he said.
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