2014 West Virginia Beekeepers of the Year

bkoyFrom left to right:                                     Charles & Maxine Walter, Eastern Panhandle Judy & Frank Wilhelm, Preston County


Charles and Maxine Walter manage about 200+ hives, and run all Russian stock.  Charles has been keeping bees on and off for the last 30+ years, and consistently, with his wife Maxine, since 2009. They relocated to Shepherdstown, WV, in the summer of 2009, with 15 hives.

At the local level Charles just completed serving his second term as the Vice President of the Eastern Panhandle Beekeepers Association and Maxine served 2011-2012 as the Membership Chairperson. They share the wonders of beekeeping among schools, 4H clubs and church youth groups and also offer workshops for groups of beekeepers or interested parties of all ages and walks of life.  These programs included presentations on: Nucs, Splits & Increases, Feeding & Sugar Boards,  Overwintering Nucs, Russian Bees and Raising Queens.

At the state level, Maxine is serving as the WV Beekeepers Association Newsletter Editor, and Charles is the EAS Director for West Virginia. Charles and Maxine are also members in good standing of the West Virginia Queen Producers, members of the Russian Honey Bee Breeders Association, the American Beekeeping Federation, as well as the American Honey Producers Association and the WV Farm Bureau.  ,

Together, on a part time basis the focus of their attention is on the production of nucs, and their small queen boutique, where Russian queen honey bees are bred and selected to order.  Honey is a by-product that they welcome very much at the end of the season, and they’ve carved out a niche for it. They love sharing their love for bees, as well as continue to learn about this interesting creature.

They have given presentations at the Honey Expo in Parkersburg and the WVBA Fall Meetings as well as their own local association and various associations in WV, VA and MD.  These sessions have included the presentation topics listed above as well as demos on making creamed honey, lip balms, candles and hand lotion.  Maxine has been a popular attraction at the Fall meetings with her sessions on making bee inspired greeting cards,

Charles is currently working to complete his Certified level of the Master Beekeeping Program.  They have entered and won ribbons at state honey shows with their Comb Honey, Cream Honey, Frame Honey, Cut Comb and Chunk Honey.

They have been a great asset not only to their local association but to beekeeping organizations all over.  They are good ambassadors for the promotion of beekeeping in the state of West Virginia.


After retiring in 2000, Frank and Judy Wilhelm moved to Preston County.  Beekeeping runs in the family.  Judy’s Uncle Herbie and Aunt Vertrude Shafer lived nearby and had been beekeepers for years.   Frank and Judy began beekeeping on their own with mentoring from Uncle Herbie.  Then Frank helped Herbie with his bees until Herbie’s death in April 2013.

Frank and Judy started out with two hives, which have grown to twelve hives at present. Preston County has an abundance of bears but using an electric fence has been successful in deterring the bears.

Uncle Herbie and Aunt Vertrude invited Frank and Judy to go to meetings of the Marion County Beekeepers Association so that they could learn more about beekeeping. Since then, the Wilhelms have been valued members there.

In 2008 they worked to start the Preston County Beekeepers Association, which now has over 40 members.   After a couple of meetings, Judy became their Secretary.  She also serves as their representative on the WVBA Executive Board.

They help man the Preston County Beekeepers Association’s information booth at the annual Buckwheat Festival.  Their group was able to raise enough money to start a Youth Beekeepers Award to encourage more young people to become beekeepers. Since 2009, PCBA has selected one youth (ages 13—16) each year from written applications.  This youth receives a complete hive, bees, bee suit and veil, and other necessary equipment. Frank and Judy have made presentations to local 4-H meetings.  On one occasion, they went to their grandson’s 4th grade class in Alexandria, VA, to talk about the importance of bees and pollination.

When asked what has been the favorite part of their experiences as beekeepers, without hesitation, they said that what they value most is meeting with other beekeepers who they described as “great people.”  Frank takes many calls from local beekeepers who need help with their beekeeping questions and problems.  Often he travels to the beekeeper’s apiary to provide first-hand help—all of this without remuneration.  They also help other beekeepers with their extracting using their own equipment.

They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June.   Their son, Jeff, who lives in Pittsburgh, comes home every weekend to help them with the farm work and their bees.  Their daughter, Kelly Andrews, and her husband Steve live in Alexandria, VA, with their two sons, Spencer (17) and Silas (13).   When Spencer and Silas visit, they help with the farm work, including the bees



4 Comments to 2014 West Virginia Beekeepers of the Year

  1. John Bray's Gravatar John Bray
    March 14, 2014 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Congratulation WV beekeeper of the year! I sure in joyed your program last summer up here Garrett county at Camp Hickory, I hope your bees are making it ok, its been a cold hard winter.
    Take care
    John Bray

  2. David Hall's Gravatar David Hall
    April 15, 2014 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Congradulation! Walter, My bee’s did very well this winter and I am looking forward to starting a new nuc this spring. Take care and again Congradulations to you….

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