How did Hunter Apiaries begin? It all began with two of the finest southern gentlemen of the "old school" who had a passion for gardening. The first was Marcus Emory Lee. The second was A.L. Thompson. They are no longer with us, but their knowledge so graciously given lives on.
Marcus Lee, who in the southern tradition went by Emory, was a wonderful gardener and story teller. You could sit in the Lee's green metal chairs under the shade trees and listen to the stories Emory would tell of how he used to live. He was also a master gardener and was so humble that he would never take credit for such an honor.
For Emory, a vegetable garden was a form of art as well as a source of income. He put his daughter through college from the produce of his large garden. It was Emory who instilled in Karl his love for vegetable gardening.
Several years later, some of the gardeners of our acquaintance were discussing their garden failures. It seemed over the previous year’s theirs were not doing as well as in the past. Karl looked into the problem and polled the gardeners as to the reasons why. Only A.L. Thompson's garden was doing well. He soon realized that A.L. had six bee hives sitting at the end of his garden. This realization led Karl to discover the tragic decline of the honey bee, thus effecting the pollination of gardens.
Do you remember when you were young and could not walk across the lawn in bare feet for fear of being stung? Now, it is rare to see honey bees. Karl realized if he was going to be a successful gardener, he would need to become a beekeeper.
A.L. gave Karl some used equipment. He found other equipment in mail order catalogs and through the internet. A package and a nucleus hive were purchased. Karl could not keep his hands off his new arrivals so they promptly died. A.L.helped out by providing him with a couple of swarms.
Karl took a short course at a local beekeepers association and then attended the Georgia Master Beekeepers course. He has served as president of a local beekeeping association in Georgia. He has written and taught classes for local beginning beekeepers. Karl especially enjoys giving beekeeping presentations to school children at Radford University's Selu Conservancy. Beth and Karl also serve as the beekeeping presenters at the annual Appalachian Festival at Radford University.
Karl did not know how his wife, Beth, would take to the bees. It turns out she loves them as much as he does. To her, the bees are beautiful. Beth especially enjoys the honey harvest and being creative with the beeswax from the hives.
Beth and Karl now care for their bees in the New River Valley of southwestern Virginia, near Pulaski.