Monday, August 23, 2010

Asheville, NC: Calvin Robinson, beekeeper

Albert Einstein is credited with the quote " If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would have only 4 years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."

Some crops (like almonds and many of our favorite fruits) depend exclusively on bees for pollination. Calvin is a man whom I think it's safe to say, is devoted to bees. He told us about the first time he had sourwood honey when he was a little boy and his grandpa had been the one to harvest it. How surprised he was when, as a young man, years after his grandfather's death, he bought honey and tasted it and it was not nearly as good as his memory of grandpa's sourwood. Calvin had us fascinated for hours with his knowledge about bees- they are so complex!

For example, bees emit pheremones just like we do, and Calvin can tell what a bee is communicating by what he is smelling from them. If a bee is welcoming another bee back to the hive, it smells like banana but watch out if you smell lemon; that implies you are headed straight for a stinging.
After Calvin's less than satisfactory experience with store bought honey he decided to tend the bees that would make him his own sourwood honey. Calvin has built up a business (Bee Blessed Apiary) and sells his honey in Tennessee and North Carolina. He mentors a lot of beginning beekeepers and encourages anyone to join their local bee keepers club (most counties have them). Like many of the farmers we've spoken to Calvin works another job to earn a stable living. He is nearing retirement with the UPS though, and is getting ready to go full time with his bees. He probably won't ever retire from that passion.


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