Heart of Louisiana: Bossier City Bees

Heart of Louisiana: Bossier City Bees

(WVUE) - "This all started out as a 4H project of mine when I was in fifth grade," Billy Hummer said.

That was 30 years ago. Now, Hummer and his bees produce 50,000 pounds of honey a year.

"Each box we would figure is about 3.5 gallons, and a gallon is twelve pounds, so we're looking at about 40 pounds of honey," Hummer said.

All of the buzzing takes place directly under the flight path of B-52s landing at Barksdale Air Force Base near Bossier City.

"Here's one that's doing really good," Hummer said. "You can see the white wax that they're putting up top. That's a good sign."

Hummer and his helpers wear protective head gear and jackets, but they prefer to work bare-handed, without gloves.

"The stings come with the job, just like office workers getting paper cuts," Hummer said. "You know it hurts when it happens, but you get used to it. For us a bad they would be probably 50 stings, a good day would be 20 stings."

Each stack of boxes forms a colony, and each colony has one queen. The queen is the one with the larger black body that's marked with a numbered dot.

"Right now she's walking around looking for a spot to lay," Hummer said. "She could have already laid up that frame."

The honey bee is Louisiana's official state insect. The climate here works well.

"Because we have great weather here," Hummer said. "Our winters aren't too cold normally, and we have an abundance of flowers."

Hummer and Son's Louisiana Honey is sold in grocery stores in North Louisiana and in farmers' markets, and you can buy it online. It's won a few awards over the years.

"The honey we produce here is more of a light amber to an amber color, which is a more full-flavor of honey," Hummer said.

Beekeepers have to guard against problems like colony collapse disorder and infestations of new foreign mites. And Hummer believes bees also suffer from a little misunderstanding.

"Honeybees in general are not aggressive, they are not trying to get you when you see them," Hummer said. "If you are out in your garden or out in your yard and you see one or two flying around, they're going to do their thing, they're just out collecting food."

During the summer, these frames fill with ripened honey.

"Honey is one of those products that doesn't need to be handled a lot," Hummer said. "So we tried to give it as little heat as possible, and as little agitation as possible."

And months of work by thousands of bees collecting nectar and pollinating crops creates a golden, sweet-tasting treat.

While Hummer says that having a few bees flying around isn't a problem, a swarm near your home could be. If that happens, call a professional who can safely remove the colony without killing it. For more information, click here and here.

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