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What’s all the buzz about Bo’s bees?
Meet Bo Dewees Saturday, March 2, at Wilson County Garden Day at the Floresville Alternative Education Center, just off U.S. 181 in Floresville. He’ll present information on beekeeping and offer honey for sale.
WCN CorrespondentFebruary 27, 2013 3,915 views Post a comment
Meet Edward E. Dewees IV.
One might be intimidated by the name, but this chap commonly goes by “Bo.” Bo, 10, is a very young entrepreneur who lives in San Antonio and raises honeybees. He started raising them a couple of years back and has grown his colony to 10 hives.
His daddy got him started with his first empty beehive to earn some extra cash; from there, he has grown his honey business into a bee-utiful empire. Bo bottles and sells his honey to local grocery stores in San Antonio.
His biggest customer, however, is the Deep Eddy Distilling Co. in Austin. Bo’s honey goes into every bottle of the company’s Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka. In fact, the label of each bottle proclaims “Made with the best honey from San Antonio, Texas.” Bo supplies approximately 120 pounds of honey each year to the Deep Eddy company.
To get started, Bo and his dad build the beehive boxes. Next, they order the wax comb onto which honey will be manufactured and stored by the bees. Then they order honeybees, which are shipped to their local post office. They purchase 3 pounds of bees, including one queen and approximately 100 male drones. The rest are female worker bees.
But Bo’s work doesn’t stop there. To keep the bees from flying away, they are fed a 50-percent sugar-water solution in the hive for the first few days; then the bees recognize the box as home. During thunderstorms, Bo said the bees automatically fly to top box, meaning they move to the top hive because it’s drier there. In the winter, when there are no blooming flowers, Bo feeds his bees a sugar-water mixture.
All this is part of Bo’s chores before he goes to school. During the summer, there is no need to feed them. When the worker bees go out and find a garden that has a lot of pollen, they return and enter the hive at the floor board. Bo’s dad said there is a certain area of the board designated as the “dance floor.” The bees start dancing out a rhythm that tells the other worker bees where to fly to find the sweetest, or sometimes the only, flowers. Bo’s dad laughingly said he calls this their “two steps to the right, two steps to the left, kick your legs out straight” dance.
Which color flowers do Bo’s bees like the most? Pink.
The queen comes with an orange dot on her head for identification purposes for the beekeeper. She flies out of the hive and mates once and will produce all the eggs the colony needs until she dies or is “retired.” She lays anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 eggs a day.
The female worker bees take care of feeding the larvae, which will become either drones or worker bees. The worker bees also make the honey. These are the same bees that fly out all day long to gather pollen from trees and bushes and flowers to supply the hive. A hive can contain from 3 million to 5 million bees.
Bo showed me what the wax comb looks like before the bees inhabit it. Then he explained that after a comb is full of honey, it will have grown at least 2 inches thicker on each side. His dad said that each level of the box will weigh 100 pounds when it is ready to harvest.
Bo harvests honey four times a year. Spring and fall harvests yield the most, around 180 pounds each time, and the two summer harvests yield 50 to 60 pounds each time. The bottom boxes are called “deeps” and the upper boxes are called “supers.” A honey harvest is called an extraction.
Many people think that if there is a bee around, it is going to sting, which makes us want to swat or kill it. While visiting with Bo, I was afraid to get stung, because I am allergic to bee stings. Bo made sure I was at a safe distance from the hive while taking photographs.
He wears protective gear, which includes a thick, long-sleeved shirt, thick pants, boots, a hat and veil, and two pairs of socks. When he approaches the hive to remove honey, he and his dad take a smoker with them, which subdues the bees and lets the two remove the lid from the box. Bo and his dad have been stung by the bees; in the bees’ defense, it was while they were harvesting and the bees’ natural instinct is to guard their hive. Most of the time, Bo said, the bees ignore him or crawl on his finger, but they don’t bother him.
Keeping it sweet
I asked Bo what the kids at school think of him since he’s been interviewed on television and in newspapers. He shyly answered that he’s “pretty popular.” He said some of his teachers clip out the newspaper stories about him, put them on their bulletin boards, and ask him to autograph the articles.
Even with his celebrity status, Bo manages to keep humble. He excels in sports and manages to keep a straight-A average in his academics and does his homework just like every other 10-year-old. He is a very nice, well-mannered young gentleman.
Meet Bo and his bees Saturday, March 2, at Wilson County Garden Day in Floresville.
To place an order for his honey, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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