Thank a Farmer: Woodard Bee Farm |

Gary Woodard has operated Woodard Bee Farm for three years with his wife Lorrie.

Woodard’s interest in bees began when he was young, listening to his grandfather talk about bees and his beekeeping days.

“He would drop these little nuggets of wisdom that he had learned from beekeeping, you know, and I remember one day we were hunting. It was a warm fall day. We were by a stream and he saw bees in the mud by the water. He said, you know, you can put some flour on the bee and look and find where his hive is. I was flabbergasted by that “That was how they hunted them in the wild. You know, just take some plain white flour or something and you can watch it fly away,” Woodard said.

Later in life, Woodard worried about bees and pollinators. This led him to start keeping his own beehives.

“I’ve always been really fascinated, but later in life I became a bit concerned about bees reading about their plight. I thought, well, it would be nice to have bees one day if I I could have a little place and have some and work them.

Woodard cares about bees, but her work with these pollinators also supports people in the Athens community.

“It’s kind of a hobby, and I think it’s something that feels good to help the community. You know, bees will fly up about five miles and pollinate different things. So that’s just one way to help,” Woodard said.

Although the Woodards primarily sell to family and friends, they have already harvested and sold nearly 84 pounds of honey this year.

“All (our harvest) is practically exhausted. So we’ll probably harvest some later, and it’ll probably go just as fast. It’s a commodity, and a lot of people love it. They like raw honey. That’s all we mine, it’s just pure, raw honey. We don’t do anything but extract it and pass it through a coarse sieve, or sieve if you will,” Woodard said.

When honey is available, interested parties can visit the Woodard Bee Farm Facebook page to inquire about purchasing.

Woodard is amazed by the nature of bees and all they do for humanity.

“I think the most rewarding part is probably understanding one of God’s greatest creations. The bee is a magnificent creature. I think the human creature is much more complex, but some of the things the bee does and is able to do and how it helps us as humans are striking,” Woodard said.

He reminds readers that without the bee, much of the food on grocery store shelves would not be available.

“A large percentage of the food you eat is there because it has been pollinated, and the bee is one of the main pollinators in the United States. Many commercial beekeepers operate hundreds or even thousands of beehives that ‘they’ll load onto a truck and move. to mass farms just to pollinate their crops because there aren’t many bees in those areas. A lot of places don’t have trees in the state. wild with nesting bees,” Woodard said.

He explained how commercial beekeepers operate in areas with fewer natural occurrences of bees.

“They will bring in truckloads of bees and park them in groves and help pollinate. Once the bloom is over, they scoop up the bees and move on to the next thing that needs bees. This is what the big commercial beekeepers do. This is how your food is. Basically, where a flower is, there will be a fruit. and when that gets pollinated, the fruit can pop up and you have something to eat,” Woodard said.

Woodard encourages farmers and other residents to avoid using insecticides.

“So everyone is really excited when you know people are talking about the bee that could go extinct if we don’t do something to help protect it. So on our farm we don’t use insecticides, but I know farmers in the area who do, and I can’t help it. I can only encourage people not to use this stuff. You just hope they come to a common knowledge and a common understanding of what it does to insects,” Woodard said.

Woodard went on to say, “use more natural sources to control insects. If a bee can get to it, if you use something that attracts the bee to a bloom, and that bloom has been sprayed with some kind of insecticide, it will probably damage or kill the bee. It’s an awareness, people have to think about what they’re doing. You know? and remember, if you think there are no bees around where you live, that’s probably true in many cases, like inside the city, but there are beekeepers here in Athens, and a lot of people don’t know it and the bees fly five miles. So the bees come from outside Athens and there are also bees inside Athens that are kept.

It reminds readers of the beauty of the bee and the medicinal properties that bee products bring to humans.

“If you’ve ever looked at a honeycomb up close, it’s so precise in the way it’s built. And what’s amazing is that the bee is able to build this with such precision without no tools other than what his body has, and he does it in the dark,” Woodard said. “Inside the colony – inside the hive itself – they fill the hive with propolis, many people call it bee glue and it is certainly a very sticky substance in hot weather. It’s hard when it’s cool. In autumn or winter, it solidifies. But this propolis is somewhat magical. It was one of the first drugs known to man, and it is still used in medicine today. This is part of what gives honey antimicrobial and antiviral properties,” Woodard said.

Woodard hopes all residents will do what they can to protect Limestone County’s friendly neighborhood pollinators.

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