Kevin and Shelley King
Grant Award: $6,000—Axios Apiary
Kevin and Shelley are establishing a full operational apiary and a mobile pollination trailer. They plan to transport bees to farms in the WNC region to help successfully pollinate crops. They anticipate having 10 hives established by April 2012 and the necessary equipment to establish 10 additional hives in 2013. They are also purchasing a farm vehicle for transferring hive bodies.
The Kings are experimenting with preferred beekeeping practices and working with materials to control mites and other pests. Their beehive bodies are constructed of a food-grade polymer plastic, which is virtually indestructible to many insects. Polymer provides an environment that reduces stress on the bees by regulating and controlling the internal temperature. Using polymer has proven to improve production by 20 percent while limiting contamination and waste.
They are also incorporating essential oils as a method of mite control. In winter, they are feeding the bees fondant, which is used in bakeries to decorate cakes. Fondant delivers high quantities of sugar without delivering excess moisture to the hive, decreasing the likelihood of freezing.
Kevin and Shelley expect to produce 30 gallons of honey in 2012 and 60 gallons in 2013, and are exploring selling beeswax and bee pollen. With their project, they are continuing a family tradition of raising bees on land that their family has farmed since 1871. They hope their son Avery, who is learning about bees, will one day take over the business.