MOREHEAD, Ky. (FOX 56) — On a recent morning, Jim Coss could be found feeding his honeybees, giving them sugar and vitamins to keep them strong at a time when there are no flowers or tree blossoms to pollinate.

He has a few bee boxes in front of his store, “The Honey and Bee Connection,” and another hundred in a field down the road.

Contrary to popular belief, bees do not hibernate in the winter. Right now, there are 10,000 to 15,000 bees huddled up inside the boxes waiting for warmer days. Even if it’s below freezing outside, it will be more than 90 degrees inside the hive.

“You got to have a bunch of bees in there to keep that heat up,” Jim said.

Jim didn’t plan to become eastern Kentucky’s biggest supplier of beekeeping equipment. It sort of
happened by accident when he decided to get two packages of bees in 2008 to help pollinate his fruit
trees. He became fascinated with watching the bees at work and decided he wanted more.

The next year, he drove to Georgia to get bees and friends placed orders, too.

“I went down to get 25 packages, but by the time I came back I had 150 packages,” Jim said. “And they were coming to pay me and saw the equipment I was building and started trying to buy my equipment.”

That’s when he decided to go into the beekeeping supply business for himself.

Now, The Honey and Bee Connection makes about 2,000 boxes each year and the metal stands to
support them. It’s a place to buy protective suits, honey extractors, books, jars and gifts.

Jim’s wife Paula Coss has become an expert too, helping with the honey-do lists.

She laughs that when they go into town, they’re known as “The bee man and his wife.”

They said winter is the time to order bees and equipment. Those who wait for warmer days will be out of luck.

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Paula answers phone calls from people all over the U.S. who are looking for supplies and advice.

They love there is a new buzz about the benefits of beekeeping, whether people do it for the honey or the hobby. They said as long as you know what you’re doing, you don’t have to worry about getting stung.

“Honeybees have a mission to find nectar, pollen, or a source of food,” Jim said. “That’s all they care about. If you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.”

The Coss’s may have bumbled their way into this business through trial and error, but now people make a bee-line to their store to learn from some of the best. They said it’s not just a store, but an area attraction. Many schools make field trips here and, in the summer, there’s an observation hive where visitors can watch the bees at work.