Life is buzzing for local beekeeper

 

By Jessie Wagoner

 

Thousands of bees, upwards of 80,000 bees, have made their home on Troy Evans’ property outside of McPherson, and he wouldn’t want it any other way. Evans has turned his fascination with bees into an active hobby and part-time business venture.

Evans says he has been fascinated by bees for years, but he really dipped his toe in the honey when he purchased his first hive a couple of years ago. He has been sharing his bee adventures on his Facebook page since that time, sharing his successes and occasional failings with his friends and family.

Most recently, Evans documented his attempt to introduce a new queen bee to the hive. She did not receive a warm welcome from the other bees and was killed almost instantly.

“I don’t know why they did that exactly,” Evans said. “In nature, a queen will live five to seven years. As she gets older, just like a person, she starts getting a little slower and not doing everything she should be doing. The hive notices this, and they will build queen cells, three to 25 of them. Then, as the queens come out, the stronger ones kill the weakest ones.” 

Most likely, the hive thought the queen Evans introduced was weak. At this point, Evans is on his third queen introduction. He recently introduced the queen, who he has named Latifah, to the hive and is hoping for the best. 

“My bees have high standards,” Evans says with a laugh. “The first one didn’t have a chance, so we will see what happens.”

While Evans’s bees have high standards, they seem to be friendly. Evans’s videos often show him shirtless while working on the hive, rarely being stung or needing to wear a protective suit. He attributes his regular interaction with the bees to their good disposition.

“I mess with them a lot,” Evans said. “I like to see them and see what they are doing. So I take them out and talk to them and make noise. They don’t startle or get scared, so I don’t get stung very often.” 

His first hive contained about 20,000 bees. Twenty thousand bees may seem like a lot for most people, but it was just enough to get Evans excited about his new hobby. He quickly needed more. Luckily, bees reproduce quickly. A queen bee will lay 1,000 to 2,000 bees a day. If the hive has enough room, they will continue to grow. 

“Again, like humans, as they grow, they will expand their home,” Evans said. “If it’s a couple, they have a little apartment, but then they have two kids and they need a bigger house. As long as I give them space, they will continue to grow. In nature, as the hive grows, bees will swarm to make another nest.”

Evans now has close to 80,000 bees split between hives on his property. He has no intention of slowing down and plans to expand the hives. This is a switch from his original plan, which was to produce honey. Now, instead of producing and selling the honey, Evans is using it to help expand his bee hives. 

Bees provide Evans with plenty of entertainment, but they are also necessary for the environment. Bees struggle to survive in nature—pesticides, viruses, climate changes, decreasing crop diversity and habitat loss claim the lives of billions of bees each year. Having bees in the area help crops grow and gardens flourish.

Caring for his own bees isn’t enough for Evans. He has also started a small business doing bee removal. For people who have a bee hive on their property that they would like removed, Evans is happy to lend a hand and relocate the bees.

“I just love the bees,” Evans said. “I’ve always liked learning about them, but now that I have them and see them and how they work, they are really cool. I could watch them and talk about them for hours.”