2014 Recipient: Blue Ridge Apiaries

Ryan Higgs, Blue Ridge Apiaries

$6,000—Nuc Production Expansion

IFRyan is expanding the production of nucleus colonies, or “nucs,” to supply his own replacement colonies, cut down on swarming, as well as sell surplus nucs to other beekeepers to create a supplemental revenue stream. With this project, he plans to produce an additional 150 nucs.

Ryan, who is the fourth generation of his family to keep bees, established Blue Ridge Apiaries in 2010. The apiary currently has over 200 colonies and an annual production of more than 10,000 pounds of honey. Ryan stocks two dozen farms in three counties with approximately 12 million honeybees.

A colony’s instinct to swarm can be mitigated if the beekeeper reduces congestion inside the colony. Since a lot of time is currently spent countering this instinct, labor for this project is a substitution rather than an addition.

This project also aims at reducing mite pressure in Ryan’s hives and consequently mitigation treatmentsIF and labor inputs. Ryan uses Varroa Sensitive Hygiene stock, which tolerate varroa mites, the most significant parasite facing domestic beekeepers. “The potential significance of this cannot be overstated given the problems that varroa mites have caused in our industry for more than three decades,” Ryan said.

 See www.blueridgeapiaries.com.

Caldwell County

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