Derek A. Lewis beekeeper

Derek Lewis beekeeper in Florida, USA.

Derek A. Lewis beekeeper is still very active in teaching new recruits the basics of how to safely keep these vitally important insects to the environment.

By Bernard Preston

My family decided I was to become their 3rd Gen 'keeper in 1952, and threw me "in the deep end". Grandfather Herbert had become allergic, and his six hives appeared in our garden. On the Job Training, at 10 years old, it was mostly by remote control. He was a Prof of Education, a "Teacher of teachers", and somehow he not only taught me, but imbued a life-long love of 'keeping. 

I can't recall the “lessons”, but somehow I learnt. However, I do remember being taught Bridge, because they needed a 4th, and Chess at that same age, by him. In his own very subtle way, Herbert had a very positive influence on my life-long hobbies.

As we were in South Africa, these were African bees, the real McCoy, Apis Mellifera Scutelata, that are extremely defensive. I remember seeing about 250 stings on a leather gauntlet, hundreds on my double socks often and killing the chickens one day, after I riled up a swarm.

At the apex, I kept 54 hives as a part time hobby that provided a nice little supplementary income.

25 Years later, I returned to the USA, moved to New Hampshire, a difficult place to winterize bees.

Decades passed, till I moved to St Pete, Florida, and learnt I was allowed to have hives on our small lot. That was all it took. I hung up a trap-nest, ordered a hive, and soon was back in business as a ‘keeper.

Derek Lewis' American bee trap.

Quantity is not possible, but quality of swarms is. The bigger, healthier, the better, and more honey… I have already taken off 200 lbs this summer, and expect another 200 soon; the Brazilian Pepper flow, our best, is about to start.

Derek Lewis is a beekeeper in St Petersburg, southern Florida, USA.
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South Africa

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