Harvest Time for the Bee Man
Tom Elliot keeps his bees with no protective gear
PETERS CREEK - It’s a hobby that some might find frightening but one Peters Creek man has been at it for thirty years. Tom Elliot is a beekeeper who is harvesting honey from his backyard hives.
“I like the bees, I enjoy looking at them and pretty much every year I learn something new,” says Elliot.
Elliot performs his honey harvest in late summer, pulling out the wooden frames from the hives that are filled with wax, honey and lots of bees. He shakes off the majority of the bees and brushes the rest off to the ground. He wears no protective clothing and uses just a small smoker to keep the bees feeling calm.
“What it amounts to is that I know how they are going to react,” he says. “If you understand something you won’t be afraid.”
Over the years Elliot has brought his bees in to classrooms, talked about them endlessly at the State Fair and offered fun facts like this; if you are stung by a honeybee, you can rest assured it is a female.
“That's interesting for kids because the males don’t have a stinger and they can’t sting, but the vast majority are females.”
Elliot’s bees are a summer time hobby but they do produce the honey that will last throughout the year. This year, he says, the yield will be down.
“Bees don’t care for our cool, wet weather, that’s not bee weather.”
Even so, he may harvest about 30 or 40 pounds of honey, all of it made from wildflowers and clover that grow in his own backyard.