The front of Stevie King’s white beekeeping suit is stained with wax, a testament to the years of cultivating the hives on his Rockville-area farm.
King was working at a farmer’s market when a vendor’s display of honey jars inspired him to make his own. A beekeeper helped start his first colony and the bees multiplied over the next season before a tick-like wintertime infestation killed most of the hives.
“It took me a long to realize what the No. 1 challenge of keeping bees is. I’d say it’s mites,” he said.
He started over and eventually opened a honey farm on State Road 59, King Bee, which sells honey, honey-based medications and beekeeping supplies and offers beginner’s classes. King was among the presenters Saturday for the Master Gardeners Lawn & Garden Show at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.
As the landscaping and gardening season kicks off, homeowners received tips on handling common plant, insect and tree problems, took part in a tree giveaway and shopped from garden-related vendors.
For green thumbs interested in beekeeping, King said a healthy queen bee is essential to a healthy hive. A productive queen can lay up to 3,000 eggs daily.
To control mites — which transmit viruses in honey bee colonies — he places acid strips with the same active ingredient used in a dog’s flea collar inside the hives up to twice a year.
First-timers can expect to spend up to $900 on batches of bees, hives, protective gear and tools. There are an estimated 212,000 beekeepers in the U.S. A permit is required to ship beekeeping components into Indiana from another state or country.
About one-third of the food Americans consume comes from honey bee pollination, according to the American Beekeeping Federation.