Meet Jason Cirioli––otherwise known as the Bee Guy––who is our full-time bee specialist. Have you ever seen that golden honey near the register with our name on it? Yep, that's all Jason! At Garden Supply Company, Jason does everything from feeding to keeping to selling to harvesting honey and teaching everything about bees. Let's take a look and see how Jason learned his A-Bee-C's, why GSCO got involved and how you can learn to keep your own bees.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where did you goto school? What did you study?
A: I am from Shenandoah Valley, VA. Moved to Apex, NC in 1989. Went to NC State and worked in the landscape nursery industry during college.
Q: Around GSCO, you’re known as the "Bee Guy.” How did you earn that name? What got the bee in your bonnet so to speak?
A: For the past 15 years, I ran my own landscape business in the Wake County area. During this time, I began to maintain the property of an old timer beekeeper. That's how I ended up with my first hive. Just sort of jumped in. I was successful my first year and was hooked. As I continued with landscape stuff, I began to get calls for bee swarm retrieval and removals of colonies the had taken up residence in people’s homes and other structures. This led to more and more bees, that ended up in hives at my house. That lead me to Keith (the owner of GSCO) at the store. I figured he might be cool with some beehives at the pond or at the community garden. I was right and within a year he was also addicted to the buzz! Things slowly progressed in the bee world I was creating and as time went by I found that I did not have enough time to manage the growing apiary and the landscape business. After talking it over with Keith, we decided to work together to build the apiary and promote pollinators and the bee business. "Bee Guy," not sure how or who but it is better than "homeless guy," as Emily so dearly referred to me. Jason works well and I usually answer to it...
Interested in becoming a beekeeper or starting a new hive in the Spring? We have a limited number of bees! Be sure to reserve yours now to pick-up in March.
Q: Why is beekeeping important?
A: Pollination is a huge industry in the US and around the world. Beekeeping as a hobby is a growing industry and there are only a limited number of local outlets to shop or get information. We want to do our part and it is a perfect fit with what we do here at GSCO.
Q: Beekeeping might not be for everyone. There’s a lot of work that goes into it. What makes an ideal beekeeper?
A: Anyone can become a beekeeper. Just like any endeavor, it takes time, effort, and mistakes to make any progress, so the person who has a hard time with any of those may find beekeeping difficult and disappointing.
Q: You are now selling nucleus bee colonies or nucs. Tell us what that means and how the process works.
A: Nucs are a great way to start with bees. It’s five frames of an established bee colony with a laying, accepted queen. Our package bees will be a 3lb box of bees with a mated and caged queen. Both methods for starting a beehive are fine. Cost is the major difference. Also, the fact that the nuc colony has a head start on the package bees and will build out the colony and hive quicker. Timing is VALUABLE and depending on your goals it may be better to have an already established colony.
Q: Where do the nucs come from?
A: Our nucleus colonies are coming up from Florida. We will have packaged bees from down south too.
Q: How many hives does GSCO have right now?
A: We ran anywhere from 50 to 100 hives last summer and plan on building on that this year.
Q: If you’re new to beekeeping, what’s the first step to begin the process?
A: Reading and YouTube are the easiest ways to find good information in regards to beginning beekeeping. Finding someone with bees who is willing to let you observe them working bees, or finding a local clubs are super helpful. Another reason we are here, we want to be a local source for those new to beekeeping and veterans too. We hold a monthly meeting at the store, all are welcome. beekeepers can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the details.