Q: How did you get started handling bees?
A (Stephen Charles): I spent 22 years in the military [Air Guard, from which he has retired]. I got my start with bees then, because there was a massive hive under a shipping container in the yard [the hive was approximately five feet long and two feet wide]. So I started looked up videos on YouTube about how to safely move it. I got online and bought a bee suit and starter kit. To this day, my very first hive relocation is the largest I have handled.
Q: Do you farm honey from a number of locations?
A: Yes, I have six bee farms scattered around St. Croix. I offer tours of the farms [safety suits provided].
Q: Can people with a bee infestation contact you for assistance to humanely remove them?
A: Yes, but I’m a beekeeper… not a bee killer [read: not an exterminator]. I take the bees from residences and put them far from populated areas. I’ve been able to help relocated hives double in size. [Stephen Charles may be reached at 340.514.8400 or firstname.lastname@example.org].
Q: What do you do with all the honey you collect?
A: If I collect honey from a residence, I give it back to the resident who hired me. I also collect honey from the farms in containers and sell it at Plaza Extra East and Quality Foods.
I make honey wine just to share with friends. It’s the stuff of kings and pharaohs, because honey was so hard to get back then.
Q: What bee conservation efforts do you recommend to people, considering honey bees are now endangered?
A: Slow down on pesticide use. Try to go organic. Bees feed off your flowers.
If you have a hive in or around your home, don’t kill the bees. Call a bee expert.
Charles interestingly added that he finds bee hives in about 90 percent of the sugar mills around St. Croix. He suggested that something about the temperature of the limestone agrees with them and offers some protection from the elements.
Ready to taste delicious honey from happy bees who live in paradise? Join us in America’s Caribbean. Contact Chris and Kerri Hanley to tap their expertise in Virgin Islands real estate, whether you’re looking to buy a home, condo or land for a bee farm. Start by downloading their St. Croix Event Guide to find an ideal time for an extended visit: