E.T.’s Bees: My Bro-in-law Raises Queens

In the last week of April Joan and I were in College Station, Texas, visiting my sister Jane and her husband, E.T. (aka Gene Ash). They live on the banks of the Brazos River in a little house that Gene built from a lot of scrounged material, including some pre-rusted corrugated metal roofing over the porch that makes the place look as though it’s been there for 85 years. Gene is one of these guys who has done a lot of things in his life, from earning a masters in economics to working as a builder. But he’s done bees most of his life. When he was in his teens and early 20s he worked with beekeepers who trucked hives up north for the summer, following the blooms. He drifted away from keeping bees for a decade or so, but in the past several years has returned to the hive, as it were. E.T.s bees are now producing hundreds of pounds of honey, which he sells in the local farmer’s markets. And they are also producing queens. E.T. is becoming adept at the arcane art of queen breeding, and is now also in the business of selling small starter hives, and nucs, which are simply a queen and a few hundred of her attendants which beekeepers use to start up new hives. For a deeper look into bees, you want want to visit E.T.’s friends at Bee Weaver Apiaries where the bees have been making honey since 1888.