Kentucky beekeeper finds hobby therapeutic, educational

Published 8:16 am Saturday, June 5, 2021

Ten years ago, Jeff Hagan’s interest in beekeeping quickly turned into a hobby.

Hagan said a friend gave him “the pieces” to start a hive, which had most of what he needed except the honey bees.

To get started, he ordered his first bees from Kelley Beekeeping Company in Grayson County.

“What you get in a package is about 3,000 bees and a queen,” Hagan said. “You put the queen and the bees inside the hive and then she starts laying eggs. Or you can get one that’s more established. They’re already together and the queen is already laying eggs.”

The other alternative is to capture bees in the wild.

As he became more familiar with caring for honey bees, Hagan said he began taking calls from people who had swarms in their trees or around their homes or properties.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve purchased bees,” Hagan said. “Now, you go out in the spring and catch swarms when people call you.”

However, beekeeping as a hobby has become more popular in recent years.

And Hagan said it’s created a demand for the honey bee swarms.

“If you’re there at the right time and the right moment, you can get some free bees,” Hagan said. “Bees can be expensive so everyone’s all over it. Now that there are so many new beekeepers, it’s really become competitive to find the bees.”

During his decade of raising bees, Hagan has maintained as many as nine hives. He’s now down to four after losing hives a couple of years ago to a fallen tree.

“…It’s got its ups and downs and frustrations, but it’s rewarding a couple of times a year,” Hagan said. “I don’t even like honey that much. And some think I just sit around and eat honey all day long but I don’t.”
When hives die during the winter, it’s not the cold temperatures that kill them but the lack of honey they need to sustain them until the spring.