Our Family History in Beekeeping

"He who denies the intelligent supervision of the whole of nature, denies his own intelligence. But wherein that intelligence centers is perhaps beyond the comprehension of men."
Frank Pellett 1871-1951

Len Bunch with his son Jim

I am blessed to have been born into a beekeeping legacy. I wanted to pay tribute in this part of our website in honoring those that have made this part of my life possible, and to those who continue to support my efforts in beekeeping.

I have included several pictures in this article to help you visualize the journey. I have found several pictures of family members that we have confirmed were beekeepers, dating back to my Great Great Grandfather "Frank (Spring) Bunch.

My journey starts with Ezel Bunch, better known to everyone as Jim Bunch. Jim was not only a excellent beekeeper, but also as a good business man, and a staunch advocate of the fight against pesticide use back in the late 1950's and 1960's. After you read this article, and you realized that you knew Jim or his family, I would like to hear from you. Jim passed away in 2004, and left a big hole in the beekeeping community.

Jim Bunch was born in 1919 and operated between 12,000 and 14,000 colonies in the United States and between 2,000 and 3,000 colonies near Spirit river, Alberta, Canada. Packages were purchased each spring to stock the Canadian operation.

Jim's Apiaries Sunnyside, Wa.

Jim's Valley Apiaries

Most of Jim's bees in the United States were rented for almond pollination in California, and some were left there all year. Many colonies were used to pollinate prunes, alfalfa, then moved north to pollinate fruit trees in the Northwest. Jim kept his bees in eight frame hives on pallets that held six or seven colonies.

Jim had his own bee supply factory in Coeurd'alene, Idaho for nine years, but later moved it to Sunnyside Washington. All of the honey produced was sold to National Biscuit Company at Portland Oregon. Jim employed as many as 30 people during the summer and gave opportunities in Beekeeping to many people.

Jim was born in Madison County Alabama where his father, was a beekeeper. Also, his grandfather Frank (Spring) Bunch kept bees in Alabama, and Tennessee. In 1946, Jim moved to Washington State and ran bees for the Shader Honey Company. Later in the 1950's he bought the Shader Honey Company, and over the next several years bought other bee companies in Washington, and California. As Jim grew his company he hired his brother Jess Bunch to help run the operation and Jess continued to work at Jim's Apiaries for 12 years. Several other family members worked for the company including my father Arlon Owens.

Bees headed for California.

Pollination Load

Even though I was young, like my other cousins it did not keep us from working the bees. I grew to love the honey bees, and have for ever been thankful for having the opportunity to be involved in a beekeeping operation of this scale.

In 1963 my family moved back to Huntsville, Alabama and I found other things to occupy my time. However, I never lost my interest in the honey bee business, and knew sooner or later I wanted too return to beekeeping.

Now, at that time Huntsville, Alabama was a major player in the space program and the race to the moon. NASA in Huntsville developed the engines for the rockets that got us there, and was known as the "Rocket City". Since, I had a love for science it was a smooth transition for me especially when I discovered electronics, and the phenomena of radio. Well, to make a long story short, for the next 40 years I worked in those type of industries.

Owens Bee Company

I formed "Owens Apiaries", in 2004 and have since changed the name to "Owens Bee Company". The Company is engaged in the management and study of honey bees along with the preservation, and restoration of their habitat. We also support schools, and local orginazations with educational presentations to inform people on the importance of Honey Bees to our enviournment.

Over the past several years I have been active in the local beekeeping association. I have held the office of President, Vice President, and been a Board Member of the Madison County Beekeepers Association. Although, I have enjoyed being involved with Beekeeping Organizations I am now focusing my time with beekeeping as I have previously mentioned. However, I will be involved with honey bees for the rest of my life, and enjoy the love for nature and honey bees!

Roger Owens


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