Photography by Richard Lawrence
Editor’s note: A version of this story first published in RSVP magazine, October 2018.
David Glover is a self-described “bee whisperer.”
Ever since bees buzzed into his life in 2009, Glover has turned the encounter into a sweet success, for himself and for others.
“It started when I took my daughter to see a friend’s honeybees,” recalled Glover.
“During that fateful visit, the bees swarmed up into a tree. I devised a plan to attach a bucket to a pole, a long pole. The idea was to hit the limb where the bees were swarming, causing them to fall into the bucket. With the bees in the bucket, I quickly dumped them into an empty hive box and helped my friend set up a second colony.”
Glover said he found the process fascinating, and quickly recognized the potential for a bee removal business. His method involves cutting out the comb and moving it to a new hive box.
About 200 times a year he removes hives from area businesses and homes, with approximately 40,000 bees in each colony.
He has used those bees to set up his own hives and now he counts over 100 hives in his personal apiary, each one established by removing problem bees from somewhere in the greater Memphis area.
In addition to establishing his own apiary, Glover, who is a master beekeeper and a member of the Memphis Area Beekeepers Association as well as the Tennessee Beekeepers Association, relocates most of the bees he removes to help other area beekeepers who have lost their colonies, enabling them to restock their vacant hives—for free.
“I get paid to take bees out of houses and businesses, and those bees go right back into the system for free,” said Glover. “I supply local food producers like Jones Orchard. Our bees help pollinate the orchard and they sell the honey. I have also provided bees for several local nonprofit organizations, like Thistle and Bee and Bee 901 Co.”
Thistle and Bee is an organization with a mission to help women who have survived prostitution and trafficking.
“The organization began with a social enterprise based on beekeeping and selling honey,” explained Eyleen Farmer, a retired Episcopal priest who is the entrepreneurial founder of Thistle and Bee. “Toward the end of my tenure at Calvary Episcopal Church, I founded Thistle and Bee as a multifaceted ministry grounded in my belief in the power of love to change the world. In our early years, David Glover helped us learn the finer points of beekeeping and helped us grow our apiaries.”
Farmer said that in the summer of 2018, Thistle and Bee’s apiaries grew from 13 colonies of bees to more than 60 colonies, allowing the organization to add products to their inventory such as herb teas, beeswax candles and super-premium granola made with their honey.
For Bee 901 Co., the honey from donated bees also fuels change in the form of community impact.
“We are a nonprofit creating sweeter lives for Memphians in need with life-changing honey,” explained Kevin Woods, a cofounder of the organization. “One hundred percent of the money we make from selling honey is donated to The King’s Daughters and Sons, a nonprofit nursing home. Our contributions have funded rehab equipment for the facility and a custom wheelchair for one of the residents. That funding would not have been available otherwise, and in the case of the wheelchair, insurance wouldn’t pay for it.”
In addition to rehoming bees, Glover offers information in a “train-the-trainer” fashion so organizations like Germantown’s Farm Park and Rhodes College can enrich their educational programming.
“With bees as our common interest, we have cut across political and cultural differences for the sake of global sustainability,” said Glover. “In the United States, the largest benefit of what bees do is agriculture pollination. In fact, about one-third of the food we eat exists because of pollination, and 85 percent of plant life exists because of pollination. Locally we provide hives for pollination at Jones Orchard.
“With a shared goal of saving our bees and repopulating empty hive boxes, beekeepers are working together to address world hunger and sustainable food sources. And locally, we are working to give people more sustainable futures.”
For more information about David Glover and his business, visit http://www.thebartlettbeewhisperer.com/ or his page by the same name on Facebook. You can find Thistle and Bee online at thistleandbee.org. You can find Bee 901 Co. at bee901.co.
The bees and combs removed from this Germantown home were delivered to Saint Elizabeth’s in Bartlett. Their beekeeper lost a colony and needed replacements. He was very grateful.
Emily Adams Keplinger is a Memphis-based freelance writer and editor who works for print and digital publications, as well as social media. She enjoys putting a positive spotlight on good people doing good things in hopes of helping connect people to one another and moving our community forward.
Richard Lawrence takes pictures in and around the city of Memphis and the Mid-South. @sundayinmemphis.