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Tell Me a Story: How I became a beekeeper (and discovered I'm allergic to bees)

Cody Helms, Community Contributor • Jul 12, 2018 at 1:15 PM

Tell Me A Story is a new series by the Kingsport Times News, where local people are asked to tell their stories. What types of story should we ask for? Email vlick@timesnews.net with your ideas.

I actually teach at Cherokee High School in Rogersville, Tennessee, and I’ve taught there for going on seven years. I’ve always been interested in bees and beekeeping, and especially the history of it as well. I taught with an English teacher there who kept bees, and I figured if she could do it, then … why can’t I? So I took the plunge a few years ago and I joined a local beekeepers’ association in Washington County. I took a beekeeping class there and I actually won several hives as a raffle giveaway, so that got it started. From there it kind of grew — I got the bug.

With another teacher, I started a beekeeping club at the school. We actually have about 30 students in there, at the beekeeping club and sustainability society at Cherokee High School. Some of our students, rather than asking for an iPhone or iPad or something for their birthday, they want packages of bees now! Some of them have their own hives as teenagers. We also started a raised-bed garden on campus. From that, my wife and I decided to start our own business on the side where we use a lot of products from the hives; beeswax and honey, things like that.

Funny story: Last year, I found out I was allergic to bees! So apparently you can develop an allergy — that’s a thing. So I have my EpiPen at the ready and I’ve been going to an allergist to receive venom injections to help mitigate that.

So, yeah. I’m a beekeeper who’s allergic to bees.

But it’s been a labor of love. My wife is an art major, so she uses a lot of her graphic design skills on our packaging and things like that. So it’s been a labor of love.


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