The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Business

April 30, 2006

A honey of a business

The Associated Press

SLAUGHTERVILLE, Okla. - Though the adage claims if a tree falls in a forest, no one may hear it, but when a tree, complete with an active hive of bees fell on George Richtmeyer's truck nearly 23 years ago, he listened.

Soliciting advice from the Oklahoma State University Cleveland County Extension Office and local beekeepers, Richtmeyer said within three years of the incident, he and his wife, Betty, were maintaining up to 500 hives of the swarming insects in their rural back yard.

Bees, Richtmeyer said, have fascinated him throughout his entire life. And though many Americans may fear the flying habits and hive activities of bees, the New York native says bees are a part of nature and don't deserve a bad rap.

"I've never been afraid of bees. I think that's why we get along so good," Richtmeyer said. "People kind of like to build up those fears of bees. They don't realize that without a bee, you wouldn't have any vegetables, any food."

Their business grew quickly, at first focusing on maintaining hives and providing bees to local farmers for pollination purposes, but it wasn't long before byproducts of honey and pollen became a part of the Richtmeyer's business.

Regularly ingesting locally produced pollen, said Betty Richtmeyer, can help with allergies such as cedar, pollen and mold and may even combat illness.

"It helps build up your immune system," she said. "It's a 100 percent natural vitamin."

And, because it was, at first, difficult to find the proper equipment for hives in Oklahoma, the business again expanded to distributing equipment and even starter hives, complete with a queen, to bee enthusiasts throughout the United States, George Richtmeyer said.

"When we started selling nooks (half of a hive) it was said it couldn't be done," Richtmeyer said. "But we did it."

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