Arbor Acres welcomes thousands of new residents!

Arbor Acres beekeepers are a dedicated, intrepid, and adventurous group! (l-r) Ellis Pardue, Ron Vinson, John Albright, Winborne Chandler, Chan Chandler.

Arbor Acres welcomes thousands of new residents!
August 29
00:40 2019

By Martha Murphy

To bee or not to bee? That was the question several residents of Arbor Acres United Methodist Retirement Community considered in early 2018 before responding, “We’re going to bee!”

And with that, residents John and Jane Albright, Ron Vinson and Chan and Winborne Chandler, along with Arbor Acres Vice President and CFO Ken Boyles, all of whom had recently completed the same beekeeping class, got to work. Their shared passion for increasing pollinator bee populations, with help from YouTube videos and recommendations from Josh Pietrafesco, a local environmentalist, spurred the Arbor Acres “Bee Team” into action, ordering hives and bees.

Arbor Acres cleared land inside a fenced area that overlooks the rolling fields of neighboring Crossnore School & Children’s Home, and the new bee yard was born!

In late May 2018, the Bee Team installed two hives oriented toward the Crossnore School to help the bees establish a flight pattern toward a water source, as they prepared for the arrival of the first 20,000 bees. Two days later, the team checked the hives and discovered the queen been in each hive had been accepted, and the worker bees had already started making honeycombs! This was great news for the amateur beekeepers! Pollinating and honey-making were underway!

Over the next few months, the hive populations continued to grow, and concern grew about whether or not the bees had made enough honey to sustain them through the upcoming winter. The Bee Team carefully tended to the two hives throughout the winter, making a sugar paste and feeding it to the bees in case the honey ran out.

Come April 2019, the beekeepers were rewarded for their hard work. They discovered two swarms of bees on the Arbor Acres campus, which is a very good thing. It meant that the queen bees had left a crowded hive and taken half of the hives with them. These “free bees” were captured and used to start two new hives. And two additional residents, Steve Forrest and Ellis Pardue, joined the Bee Team, contributing two more hives.

The most gratifying evidence of the beekeepers’ success? The total estimated population in the now six hives was estimated to exceed 300,000 bees—in just one year!

Then in June, the beekeepers put to the test some new skills: the labor-intensive process of honey extraction and bottling. They removed 76 frames of honey from the hives and moved them to a room heated to 100 degrees to soften the honey. The frames were put into an electric extractor the following morning and by the end of the day, the beekeepers had extracted more than 200 pounds of honey—in their first year of beekeeping!

Over the next two days, the Bee Team labeled and bottled 320 jars of honey, which sold out on campus in less than 24 hours!

At Arbor Acres, beekeeping has become a great way not only to feed the passions of residents, but also contribute to the environmental sustainability of the dwindling bee populations. Now that’s a win-win!

Martha Murphy is the marketing arts specialist at Arbor Acres Retirement Community. For more information about Arbor Acres, visit

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