A new store in Orange can lead to sweet treats for customers. Christie Ray has bee-come so enthusiastic about her hives she wants to help others become beekeepers.
She has opened Queen Bee Supply on 16th Street across from Northway Shopping Center. It’s in the former office of the late veterinarian Dr. Harold Ray, who was Christie’s father-in-law.
“I love the bees and what they do. They’re amazing creatures,” she said.
She thinks her father-in-law would be happy with remodeled building and bee store. One of the last conversations she and her husband had with him before he passed away was about bees.
Hobby apiarists are multiplying across Orange County as people find hives, honey and bee culture fascinating.
Shopping for beekeeping supplies hasn’t been easy here. A couple of places in the region have a few supplies. Otherwise, the closest place is in Marshall, Texas, Ray said. “We will have everything possible that our local people use,” she said.
Beekeeping is affordable to start. “You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment,” she said. Beekeepers can wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, plus gloves and the beekeepers hat with veil. She started with a bee box on a fence and graduated to a hive.
Ray said she started beekeeping about four years ago. She and her husband, Shawn, bought land in North Vidor and they were looking at raising and growing their own food.
She knew bees are the leading pollinators for plants. Plus, she has a sweet tooth. Get some bees and she would have help with the crops plus she would reap the honey. Her husband told her it was all hers. He wasn’t going to be involved.
Ray went to a community course in beekeeping held at Lamar State College-Orange. She said the beekeeping community is willing to share problems and advice.
Shawn got ‘stung,’ so to speak, with bee fever. He has joined in the effort and they now have 30 hives. Christie said she’s glad. It takes muscle to move the hives, which can weigh 100 pounds when full.
Christie said Queen Bee Supply will eventually carry everything “from A to Z” for bees. Now, basics are available to help beekeepers, or those who want to begin.
She’s also preaching for bees around the county. She’s been to Vidor High School and is working with the Texas AgriLife Orange County office to plan youth programs for beekeeping.
However, if someone wants local, raw honey, they don’t have to raise their own bees. Queen Bee Supply is selling honey from the Ray hives. Honey made from bees locally can help alleviate allergy symptoms, she said.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-