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Beekeeping is a way to help planet Earth, but hey, it’s a buzz, too

By on May 28, 2019 in Uncategorized with 1 Comment
Lee has a special beekeeper’s suit for granddaughter Jadelynn to work with the bees.

By Dan McConnell

Lee McGarr is an electrician who works for Beckstead Electric or BE for short… and speaking of BE, he’s a BEe man. 

We met Lee and Teri McGarr through Lee’s job on our kitchen remodel.

He walked into our house on the first day of his job with us and told me he’d gotten stung while feeding his bees a protein pack and sugar mix to keep them healthy during the Arctic cold we were getting that week. 

For his compassionate care, he got stung. “No good deed goes unpunished,” so they say. 

But on the bright side, he gets relief from the arthritis in his hand from the bee stings… after the swelling goes down.

Lee and Teri McGarr constructed a large climate-controlled shed in their backyard to protect the hives over the harsh winters.

Lee and his wife Teri own Wenatchee Valley Bee and Supply LLC. Their motto is “By Beekeepers, for Beekeepers.” When they are not working with their own hives, they are mentoring new beekeepers from all over the valley.

Initially before this whole bee adventure got started, Teri found she had time on her hands and wanted to start some kind of business. The three main possibilities that sounded good to her were Avon and Tupperware and bees. 

Lee really liked the idea of working with bees as much as Teri did, and so it began. 

Teri and Lee started as bee hobbyists, then another hive was given to them from Lee’s dad. And since the hives grow on their own, exponentially, they’ve gone from one hive to owning eight at last count.

Initially Teri and Lee were drawn to bees because of their concern for negative environmental impacts they had read about causing hive declines and also from the news that bees were dying for several reasons associated with the impact of environment and pesticides. 

Having been an orchardist myself, I knew how cautious we had to be about perfectly timing our spray applications before the arrival of the bee hives in our orchard for the pollination season. 

We needed to give them four full days after spraying before the hives were brought into the orchard. By that time the sprays have dissipated from the sun and time and are no longer deadly to the bees.

A new queen (in the white box called a queen cage) is introduced to a hive, and the other bees work to free her.

Teri and Lee jumped into the bee business convinced becoming beekeepers would be good for them, good for the bees and subsequently good for the planet.

In order to get started, they read all the books they could find on bees, plus online information… but mostly books. Two of their favorites are Beekeeping for Dummies and Idiots Guide to Beekeeping. 

From their research, they felt confident enough about this idea of raising bees and that it could blossom into something beneficial for all involved, bees and humans; they joined a beekeeping club and bought some bees.

A few years later, as they were looking for supplies, they discovered there were no sources for bee supplies locally. They had bought their equipment and supplies online previously, so, undaunted, they decided to become beekeeping suppliers themselves.

They now serve people from Okanogan and the greater Wenatchee Valley, on down to Yakima.

In addition to the help they’re giving to the community of beekeepers and the environment, they’re about to embark on another important pilot project involving beekeeping combined with helping military veterans, called Beekeeping with Vets.

Lee’s dad was a Korean War vet and so Lee is very excited about working with veterans who may be dealing with the after effects of war experiences. 

Giving the vets an opportunity to invest their time and focus (you have to be very focused when you’re working with bees) and energy in the worthwhile endeavor of raising bees is therapeutic, believes Lee. 

Last year, the McGarrs gave honey to cancer patients and to several charities: the Wellness Place, the VFW and the Lupus Foundation. They plan to have a “pet” charity again this year. 

Lee and Teri drew out more than 500 pounds of honey from their bees last year, leaving more than that for the bees themselves to live on. As each bee can produce 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey, that equaled the work of a lot of bees.

Before they started adding beehives to their place, Lee had a beautifully manicured, lawn and yard. Every weekend he weeded it. He thatched and mowed the lawn and the entire area was something to be proud of. 

Now, his landscaping has gone to a freer style. 

Lee and Teri’s lawn is covered in clovers and dandelions, and they leave the weeds for the bees so the pollen from all those flowers, clovers and various weeds will get into the honey for people with allergies. 

(When a person eats local honey, they are thought to be ingesting local pollen. Over time, a person may become less sensitive to this pollen. As a result, they may experience fewer seasonal allergy symptoms.  One study found honey eaten at a high dose did improve a person’s allergy symptoms over a period of eight weeks. These studies were done with a small sample size so further larger-scale studies are required. From Healthline.com)

They have massive flowerbeds of wildflowers for the bees and watering stations all over the yard for the bees.

They currently have water bowls out on their deck and in those bowls are sponges and wood chips. It’s like a little exquisite day spa for the bees. 

Lee decided to do an experiment and put pink Himalayan salt onto the sponge. Oh my, do the bees love it. You’d think he had put sugar out!

From my years of growing tree fruit, I know it’s “Bee kind to Bee’s Day” every day… and if you get stung your arthritis pain may go away… as soon as the swelling goes down.

Lee’s and Teri’s company is Wenatchee Valley Bee & Supply LLC. Their apiary is Sierra Vista Bees, you can find them both on Facebook and at

wenatcheevalleybeeandsupply@gmail.com and Sierravistabees@gmail.com

Dan McConnell has lived in the Wenatchee Valley for 45 years on his pear/apple orchard (mostly pears) with his wife, Ann. He worked the orchard with his wife for 20 years and then leased it to his neighbor since then. These days he does cartoons most every day for The Good Life magazine and other lesser known publications.

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