“I live next to the golf course but bee keeping is my hobby.”
BETSY ZACKARY Free Lance Journalist
“I have a fascination for this job. I won’t give up my bees until I’m 105 years,” Ralph said with a laugh.Ralph McClaugherty 75, of Raymondville has been in the bee keeping business for 70yrs now. As a second-generation bee keeper, Ralph followed his dad as a boy and learned to work with bees. He’s had over three hundred bee stings but received them all in a day when his trailer, carrying 110 hives, tipped over on a highway. Within three minutes Ralph was covered in stings and the highway swarmed with angry African Bees. African Bees are the worst compared to European Bees because they attack in large numbers. Both are found in Willacy County. After the highway was closed off and weeks after Ralph healed from his stings, he returned to his bees.
While most people instinctively become Rambo with bee killing spray, interesting facts about bees should prevent bee fearers from destroying hives. Ralph’s bees, among other bees are used to polinate 1/3 of crops. Crops like watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, onion and squash grown in Willacy County are dependent on bee pollination.
“There’s a crisis; a real short- age of bees right now.” Ralph said with a concerned face.
So can bees and people coexist? Yes but bee careful. He recommends that hives in fields far from people be left alone. Hives found in walls, or near homes should be removed.
Ralph also removes bees by profession. ” Don’t swat a bee if they’re around, it makes them angry. Most people do that but bees aren’t flies. Best thing to do is run for cover.”
Currently Ralph is semi-retired and is married to his honey, Jean McClaugherty. “She had bees and that brought us together.” Together they sell a variety of local unfiltered and unheated honey products like: Pure virgin jarred honeycomb, “Chew a bit of the comb if you have bad sinus to clean it right up.” wild flower jelly, pollen and other natural product. Price range: $6 – $12.
That’s the secret.” Ralph said with a satisfied smile.
If you are interested in product purchase or in bee removal Ralph’s number is: 956.689.4696.