Here at Smithfield’s Finest Bees & Honey, we prize quality over quantity. Ruth started her beekeeping adventure in 2013 with topbar hives, and those are still her favorite hive configuration, just for the joy of beekeeping. At that time, she was interested in utilizing the hive products for Apitherapy purposes, including the bee venom. Realizing that varroa mites are an ever-present issue and the chemical controls contribute to contaminating the Apitherapy Hive products, she started to explore treatment free measures, which included resistant bee stock. All the while she is keeping topbar hives, the bee colonies are growing like crazy so Queen Rearing was a natural avenue to branch off into. And since she doesn’t care to light a smoker each time she works the bees, a gentle strain of honeybees was needed. The Buckfast hybrid bee is one of the gentlest ones around and they have a limited propensity to swarm, given the right hive conditions. Since our border with Canada has been closed for a number of years to importing queen bees, finding true to source Buckfast bees can be a challenge, but New River Honeybees out of West Virginia still maintained instrumentally inseminated stock that they purchased prior to the border closure. Ruth has also worked with a number of other queen producers to trial their bees in coastal Virginia's mild winters and hot, humid summers. The Carniolan hybrids by Michael Palmer of Vermont, that are being used in the UBeeO trials with the Vermont Bee Lab are performing very well in our area. Virgin queens from Cory Stevens’ Italian line are also doing very well here. With those 3 distinct queen lines in hand, Ruth was certified in 2021/2022 through the Kentucky Queen Bee Breeders Association as a Certified Queen Producer and also began the Virginia Queen Bee Breeders Network as a resource for Virginia Beekeepers to procure high quality, hygienic, Virginia-mated queens from their beekeeping network. She is actively involved with clubs at the local and state level to educate the general population on apitherapy, queen bees and planting for pollinators.
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