Beekeeper finds business sweet, sticky
24/09/01 - E. Thomas Lowe - http://www.orlandosentinel.com/
EUSTIS -- It was something about that first sting that got Henry Parker hooked.
The 81-year-old was visiting a beekeeper friend in North Dakota when he got stung by a honeybee. "It got in my blood and never got out," Parker said.
He's been beekeeping ever since.Since then, I have built immunity to their stings and it does not bother me much any more. I had a reaction for a while, but I can get stung 15-20 times now with no reaction," Parker said.
Born in the woods of Taylor County, in Perry,Parker said he did not think about bees when he was younger and worked in road construction.
"I worked with dredging and float equipment for a while until the environmental concerns made it very unprofitable to do so," Parker said.
Parker bought 20 acres of land in Eustis in 1955 and upon retirement was looking for ways to earn extra income.
"A friend lived here for a while, and he started with four or five hives. When he left, he said he would leave me a few hives and he did. He left me 35 of them," Parker said.
"I learned how not to kill them. I thought I was going to get rich, but the bees would not cooperate. I would tell them but they would not listen. I knew what they were thinking. Here comes that sucker that stole our honey, " Parker said.
Parker said bees have many natural enemies, including mites, beetles, bears and the mosquito-control agents.
The insecticide used to fight mosquitoes is highly toxic to bees. "Mosquito Control can destroy all of the bees and I try to stop them if I see them coming down the road," Parker said.
Parker said he nearly lost his bees at first but now has about 150 hives in Eustis and Merritt Island."Honeybees are the only insects that manufacture food that people eat. They also pollinate billions of dollars in crops nationwide and make wax for candles and royal jelly. Honey has many uses besides eating," Parker said.
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