Bees are incredibly important to a healthy eco-system. They pollinate plants that provide food and shelter. They are becoming threatened by invasive species, pesticides, and viruses - not to mention loss of habitat.
The beekeepers at the preserve provide a small amount of honey that we sell in our nature shop. The supply is small and gets sold out almost immediately. The honey will be processed at the end of summer and honey will be available in our store in early September. It will probably only last a few weeks.
This fellow was appreciative that I was "documenting" the process of checking the health of the hives. He was also introducing a new hive. I had a telephoto lens so I could stay out of his way, but came close as the bees are quite undisturbed by this process. The smoke helps slow them down and doesn't harm them in any way. Note that he was NOT wearing gloves while doing this work. No humans were stung or attacked during this process, nor were any bees harmed.
Photo extras follows part of the process.