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Hive House Apiaries looks forward to first growing season in Shepherdstown

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Mar 26, 2021

Hive House Apiaries opened its brick-and-mortar location at 108 South Princess Street in September. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Last September, Shepherdstown resident Jason Murphy opened up the town’s first beekeeping supply business, Hive House Apiaries, at 108 South Princess Street.

While the business had existed for a little over four years, at that point in time, it had largely been relegated to the back burner in Murphy’s life, as he kept busy throughout the week as a professional tattoo artist. But when the COVID-19 Pandemic struck the Eastern Panhandle last March, Murphy began to realize the temporary closure of tattoo parlors was giving him the opportunity to grow his beekeeping supply and consultation business.

“We were running the business out of our apiary for a while,” Murphy said, referring to the apiary on his farm on the outskirts of Shepherdstown. “When the pandemic hit last spring, I realized I needed to do something else to bring in an alternative income. This [business] is 95 percent of what I’m doing. The pandemic came along and kind of forced my hand. I think it’s a kind of fortunate forcing, because I’m really enjoying this. It looks like it’s becoming a full-time job!”

According to Murphy, his idea to finding a brick-and-mortar location in downtown Shepherdstown came to fruition, thanks to Shepherdstown resident Lori Robertson recommending Hive House Apiaries’ current location as a possible business spot.

“There’s definitely people in town who notice us now,” Murphy said.

Murphy

Murphy’s decision to rent a brick-and-mortar location on Princess Street was intentional, as it allows him more freedom than if he had a location that needed to be kept open on German Street. Currently, Murphy is open Tuesdays through Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., by appointment. Since his apiary and home is only a mile away from his shop, he is able to quickly respond to customer needs.

“It’s perfect for what we do,” Murphy said. “I’m not a shop keeper. But people know they can call any time, and I’ll be there.”

With spring now in full swing, Murphy is preparing himself for a busy season of serving the needs of local beekeepers — whether that be through selling them nucleus bee colonies, queen bees or Mann Lake beekeeping equipment. Murphy also offers Zoom educational beekeeping seminars and one-on-one beekeeping coaching year-round, which allow him to help beekeepers develop their craft.

“I’m trying to do everything I can to educate the beekeepers in the area, especially the new ones,” Murphy said. “Beekeeping is different than it was in our grandparents’ time. It used to be, for years, that if someone was a beekeeper, they put bees in a box and got honey, and the next year the bees were still in the box. Now, you have to really be disciplined, you have to be educated in order for your bees to survive. It’s an expensive endeavor to constantly replace your bees.”

Murphy explained the amount of bee loss should ideally be from 10-15 percent, like he experiences. Unfortunately, due to a lack of education in modern beekeeping techniques and increase in environmental hazards to honey bees, Murphy has encountered beekeepers who have had as much as a 70-80 percent loss of their bees.

A row of Hive House Apiaries’ five-frame medium nucs, or nucleus colonies, are pictured here on a farm on the outskirts of Shepherdstown. Courtesy photo

“I’m always trying to teach people how to do what we’re doing. I tried to learn from the giants, and apply what they’re telling me. It’s a recipe that, if I can do it, anybody can do it,” Murphy said. “We’re trying to ensure people can replicate the success that we have!”

And for those who aren’t beekeepers, or interested in beekeeping themselves, but nevertheless love honey products, Murphy can also hook them up with local honey, honey combs and other honey-based products.

To learn more, contact Murphy at 304-261-8548 or email hivehouse@hotmail.com.