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Mountain Scene: Homegrown Beekeeping w/ Blue Ridge Bee Company

If you are looking to expand your outdoor hobby horizons, you may find that beekeeping is the perfect pastime. Not only can you reap the benefits of fresh backyard-to-table honey, but you can also get to revel in the satisfaction of maintaining your own colony. Plus, the buzzy critters have the ability to lend a huge helping hand in the flowerbed as they pollinate your flowers and plants. It’s a win-win.

Blue Ridge Bee Company offers affordable beekeeping supplies and training.

Before you dive in headfirst, though, know that there is a sharp learning curve when it comes to successfully running your own first-time hives. So, to answer all your initial questions, we reached out to Blue Ridge Bee Company (BRBC) located on Mercer Street in downtown Princeton. BRBC offers affordable beekeeping supplies and training where you can learn the basics such as proper terminology, equipment use, and how to manage bees from season to season.

To get started, you will need beekeeping equipment and a protective beekeeper veil and gloves. Whether you are a beginner or a master beekeeper, they tell us they have a solution for you to help you keep your bees healthy and thriving.

On average, one honeybee colony will have 30,000-50,000 bees

FUN FACT: On average, one honeybee colony will have 30,000-50,000 bees, depending on the size. Within that community lives the queen (who lays upwards of 1,500 eggs daily), worker bees who run the hive, and drones, which are the male bees who mate with queens from other colonies.

BRBC is owned and operated by William and Emily Lambert. They launched the business in 2016 offering products solely online at blueridgebeecompany.com. In 2019, they opened their doors in Princeton and share with us, “We love educating people on what we have learned and sharing with them what unique things that we have found and assembled in our store.”

While the store specializes in bee supplies, you can also find a large variety of local foods!

While the store specializes in bee supplies, you can also find a large variety of local foods! There’s 20 different varieties of honey; Amish Wood-Fired Pepperoni + Cheese Rolls; Amish Fried Pies; Amish Baked Breads; locally raised meats; Oliver and Pluff’s assortment of Teas; Red Rooster Coffee; and Amish canned goods.

William and Emily also prepare take-out dinners and a recent dish was Korean Short Ribs with sautéed zucchini and rice. Save room for dessert as, year-round, they keep 12 rotating flavors of hand-crafted, high butter fat, ice cream in stock. Served on homemade waffle cones some flavors are unicorn stars, superman, WV pothole, cotton candy, pecan praline, puppy chow, and cake batter. You can also find Goat’s Milk soaps and lotions, BRBC coffee mugs, t-shirts; and so much more!

Folks visit them from near and far and they all share one thing in common… discovering unique and hard-to-find items that they can’t get anywhere else.

Folks visit them from near and far and they all share one thing in common which is unique and hard-to-find items that they can’t get anywhere else. Emily says, “We get a lot of local people coming every week but many of them are traveling and passing through.” They go on to share that they chose to set up their store in Princeton because they both grew up in this town, left, and then returned with plans of being a part of Princeton’s growing small business community.

We asked the owners, “What are the top 3 questions you get from customers?” Here they are (in no specific order):

Q. “Do you get stung?”
A. “Yes, if you keep bees you will get stung.”
Q. “How much does it cost to get started?”
A. “Usually it costs anywhere from $200-$500 to get started but can be free if you can build your own equipment and catch-free swarms.”
Q. “What made you want to do this?”

A. “Beekeeping is something that we have done for the past 8 years and find great enjoyment out of and we like to help others find this enjoyment and satisfaction.”

“It is nice working with bees because if you are having a bad day, you can head out to your colonies.” – William Lambert

While William and Emily can’t track their impact on the local bumblebee population, they share that in 2020 they sold over 1,000 hives to residents in the two Virginias and surrounding states. + THE BEST PART ABOUT BEEKEEPING? This is something anyone can do in almost any place in the world. ++ Bee colonies bring tremendous joy after a tough day.

William says, “It is nice working with bees because if you are having a bad day, you can head out to your colonies. These spectacular critters show you what hard work really is. They don’t complain about working or show signs of not wanting to be there. They just work hard and do what they have to do to survive and you appreciate this.”

The pair finds great enjoyment in both beekeeping and their store. They hope all visitors feel the same. They also love to support other local small businesses on Mercer Street and welcome any shop owners with original ideas. If you would like to find joy in doing things that are from days gone past, visit Blue Ridge Bee Company. They are open Monday-Saturday from 10am-6pm and located at 858 Mercer St. Princeton WV 24740. For more information, call 681-282-5161, email blueridgebeeco@gmail and follow them on facebook and instagram @blueridgebeeco

– HashtagWV #137. November 2021.
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HashtagWV Art & Entertainment is a high-quality print and digital multimedia platform for all things West Virginia and the greater Appalachian region. The editorial focus is local music, unique shopping, the arts, events, theatre, and food and drinks. tiktok.com/@hashtagwv

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