Death of a Beekeeper

The best part of the storm passing is that the weather is now absolutely perfect.

Which is good because today was the memorial service for Floyd Watkins, a local beekeeper who just passed on at the ripe old age of 85. Floyd was one of the founders of the Tidewater Beekeeping Association and truly a beekeeping institution in these parts. He had retired from the Navy long ago and made his money removing bees from people's property, among other things bee related.

I've known Floyd for a decade and enjoyed talking bees with him over the years. I got some good advice from him, and I liked working with him in the TBA.

Probably the most fitting thing for a memorial service for Floyd was that afterward the formal service (with 21 gun salute) we ate a bunch of fried chicken and other food and talked bees. One thing beekeepers can do, especially the old timers, is talk bees. I enjoyed it, I've been wrapped up with things so much that it has been far too long since I have seen a lot of these people, lots of good friends and mentors.

Floyd lived in Knotts Island, North Carolina, which is just south of Virginia Beach and Back Bay. Out on the island he raised kiwis, I think the only guy around here who did it commercially. At the memorial service his wife carol told me that last year they had 20,000 kiwis to pick and she expected the same this year. Since I have always eaten his kiwis I am glad that she'll be continuing to harvest them.

We tried to get some kiwis going on the VWC campus to complement the bees (they are a fruit that needs pollination) but the spot we picked for them was too wet.

Students wandering out by the lake will notice a couple of large wooden Ts to the left of the path, that was the failed kiwi arbor.

Maybe we should try again, now that the bees are set up by the organic garden, and the soil is dry.

I left Floyd's service and went to see my bees which are way out in Pungo and just down the road from Floyd's church. Despite the fact that I only go visit them once or twice a year, they were going strong and had a lot of honey. The key truly is to set them up right and leave them alone.


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