Best Beekeeping Practices Q & A: Charlie Parton

Charlie Parton is one of the mainstays of the Blount County Beekeepers Association. He reads and studies about bees constantly, and he is always willing to share his advice with others.

He has helped many people in Blount County get started with their hives by providing them with nucs and other supplies.

Charlie was named the 2011 Beekeeper of the Year by the Tennessee Beekeepers Association.

Charlie Parton gets ready to truck his bees to the mountains to gather sourwood honey.

How many hives do you keep? 


Describe the woodenware you use for your hive bodies and your honey supers (deeps, mediums, shallows, wood, plastic, etc).

9 5/8 in cypress supers for the brood. 6 5/8 in. cypress for honey supers. Solid cypress bottom boards, wood inner cover from Brushy Mnt., plastic telescoping covers and wood frame/plastic foundation in brood and honey supers.

Do you use screened bottom boards? Slatted racks?


How do you feed your bees?

With hive top feeders, except nucs which I use a Boardman feeder.

When (please provide months, not just Spring/Fall) do you feed? 

I tend not to feed in spring (Feb. thru April) arbitrarily unless a colony is needing food. I have found that just feeding in the spring to be feeding can and does cause swarming. In fall I feed 2 gal. sugar syrup with fumagilin for nosema and continue to feed only sugar syrup until the colony has at least 60 lbs of stored food.

What do you feed?

Granulated sugar.  What equipment do you use for feeding?  Do you use any supplements? Honey Bee Healthy

How and when do you treat for varroa mites, nosema, tracheal mites, and hive beetles? 

I treat for Varroa in the spring (Feb.) with formic acid pad on top of the brood nest and again in mid July with Apiguard on top of the brood nest, I do not treat for tracheal mites although the treatments I use are said to help control them. I feed fumigilin in late September or October for control of nosema, but I do not treat at all for hive beetles.

Are there any other practices you use to minimize these pests/diseases?

Keeping your colonies in full sun has been shown to help with diseases and pests and maintaining strong colonies will protect you from hive beetles and wax moths.

What method(s) do you use to minimize swarming (hive body reversal, checkerboarding, etc)?

Reversing brood chambers, adding honey supers early by mid March and having a young productive queen after having requeened the previous fall.

When do you put honey supers on?

Mid March

How many do you put on at a time?

At least two

When do you take your off from your honey supers?

Generally I start between the 22nd and the 25th of June

How do you build up brood in the Spring for a colony that has overwintered?

The only thing I do is make sure they have plenty of food and I do sometimes feed a protein patty

Do you requeen? How often?

At least every two years

Where do you get your queens?

The last few years I have gotten my queens from Wootens Golden Queens in California and last fall from Pendell Apiaries in California.

If there are other practices/methods you would like to discuss, please include these so we can add those to the database.

I would like to say that the problems beekeeper have sometimes is not a lack of knowledge, though many times it is. I believe that timing even if you have knowledge is of upmost importance. If someone says that they don’t have their honey supers on and it’s the middle of April, they will probably lose a lot of bees to swarms. Likewise with medications, if a person should medicate in July but procrastinates until September, he can’t expect his bees to live. Therefore I believe timing is everything in the world of beekeeping.

One thought on “Best Beekeeping Practices Q & A: Charlie Parton

  1. This was a very good article of good management practices. Beekeeping requires work and passion. You do both well. Many of us want the Honey but not the work Bees require. (Kind of like the way some of us look at the good Lord………we all want to go to heaven,(Honey) we just don’t want a “Lord over us” and put forth any obedience on the part of our own to get there.) 🙂

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