July 23, 2017

Nobleboro Couple Receives Beekeeper of the Year Award

From: The Lincoln County News – 10/29/2014

Pictured in front of some of their bee hives with their dog Honey, Dick and Jean Vose, of Nobleboro, were given the Maine State Beekeepers Association's 2014 Beekeeper of the Year award Oct. 18. (D. Lobkowicz photo) 

Pictured in front of some of their bee hives with their dog Honey, Dick and Jean Vose, of Nobleboro, were given the Maine State Beekeepers Association’s 2014 Beekeeper of the Year award Oct. 18. (D. Lobkowicz photo)

Self-described “backyard beekeepers” Dick and Jean Vose, of Nobleboro, were given the Maine State Beekeepers Association’s Beekeeper of the Year award at the association’s annual meeting Oct. 18.

The award “is given annually to a beekeeper that has, over a period of years, demonstrated and promoted good beekeeping, improved the public image of the industry, and served the industry as a volunteer,” according to the association’s website.

Since they got involved in the industry nearly 30 years ago, the Voses have served in a variety of roles in beekeeping associations and schools in Maine and Massachusetts. They have also been recognized in the past for their contributions, including being named State of Massachusetts Beekeepers of the Year in 1996.

Jean said she and Dick are both very committed to keeping bees and have been for years, and never had awards in mind.

“It’s heartwarming to be recognized by our peers,” she said. “It’s one of the highest honors you can be given as a beekeeper in your state.”

The award means “we’re doing something good,” Dick said.

The Voses, both originally from Massachusetts, started keeping bees in Worcester, Mass. in 1986.

At a spring flower show that year, Jean came across a sign that said “Ask me about bee school.”

As a gardener, Jean said she knew it was helpful to have bees to help pollinate her herbs and other plants. She asked Dick to attend the school with her since she didn’t know anyone in the class, and he ended up getting hooked.

The Voses started with one bee suit, one hive, and one smoker, and Dick did most of the actual beekeeping with Jean’s assistance. When they moved to Nobleboro in 1998 and Dick’s health was declining, Jean took over working the hives.

“They’re the most fascinating thing I’ve ever seen,” she said of the bees.

The Voses, who currently have six hives in total on their property and another, bottle and sell the honey they collect each year. In 2014 they collected well over 100 pounds of honey to sell, Jean said.

The $10 the couple charges for a pound of honey does not even cover their costs, Jean believes, but she said they do benefit from the bees’ pollination and satisfaction from their efforts.

“We’re not in it for the money,” Jean said. “It’s the satisfaction of just being good stewards of our bees and helping them survive.”

The Voses have also been stewards of the beekeeping industry. Along with exhibiting their craft at shows and fairs over the years, the Voses established this area’s first beekeeping school and helped found the local chapter of the Maine State Beekeepers Association, Jean said.

When the Voses moved to Nobleboro and found no local beekeeping school or association in the area, they started their own in 2001 through the then-School Administrative District 40 adult education program.

In the school’s first year, the course had 13 students.

“We were so thrilled that anybody showed up,” Jean said.

By the time their third bee school wrapped up in 2003, around 50 to 60 people had gone through their school and around 20 to 30 of them, including the Voses, started the Knox Lincoln County Beekeepers, the local chapter of the Maine State Beekeepers Association, Jean said.

Jean stepped down from her role as the bee school director and program director for Knox Lincoln County Beekeepers in 2010, though she said she occasionally teaches a class and both she and Dick are often a presence in the school.

Jean continues to mentor beekeepers, both electronically through email and telephone and through site visits.

“I think that’s the most fun,” she said of the site visits.

Dick and Jean Vose live at 147 Lower Cross Rd. in Nobleboro with their rescued golden retriever, unintentionally named Honey. They can be reached at 563-7564.

For more information on the Knox Lincoln County Beekeepers or their annual spring bee school, visit www.klcbee.com.

“We welcome anybody who wants to learn about bees,” Jean said.


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