BY SUSAN M. BRACKNEY
Inside Graham’s Bee Works, beekeeping suits stand at attention and the scent of beeswax mingles pleasantly with pine. But owners Juanita and Roger Graham sell more than just honey, candle-making supplies, and beekeeping equipment. They’re also in the business of creating new beekeepers—and sustaining experienced ones, too. Located at 121 W. Washington St. in Morgantown, Indiana, Graham’s Bee Works is part beekeeping supply shop, part beekeeping school, and, at least informally, part beekeeping advice hotline.
“We started about 100 to 180 new beekeepers last year, and only two of them have quit so far,” Juanita says. “I’m just a phone call away.” That’s good news for newbies with questions about the various mites, beetles, and viruses that have long plagued managed bee colonies and their keepers. Juanita began beekeeping with her father when she was just 12; her husband, Roger, has been a beekeeper since 1977. Together, they tend 300 hives scattered across five bee yards.
In business since 1994, the shop started small, with just one room of beekeeping equipment. These days, antique smokers dating back to the 1800s and vintage honey pots line the ceiling. The shop includes rooms full of beekeeping kits, books, and tools, as well as a room where classes such as “Beekeeping 101,” “Queen-Rearing,” and “Preparing for Winter” are taught. What’s more, a commercial kitchen is in the works, so hobbyist beekeepers will soon be able to legally bottle and sell their honey.
The Grahams also offer their own locally raised bees and queens. “They’re Italian-Indiana mutts,” Juanita says. Additionally, Graham’s sells bee packages, each containing a few pounds of bees and a queen. “Our package bees are from Georgia, but we pay to have them inspected [for hive beetles and other problems] before we bring them home,” Juanita explains. She estimates that they sold 1,500 bee packages, 200 queens, and about 150 “nucs” (mini colonies containing a queen and just a few frames’ worth of bees) last year.
Graham’s Bee Works is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m–3 p.m. For more information call 812-597-2000, find them on Facebook, or visit grahamsbeeworks.com