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New bee supply source opens in Iowa

By Staff | Apr 8, 2011

Don Charleston and Susan Jones opened their bee supply store after facing hefty freight charges from a mail-order business. They own Central Iowa Bee Supply, in rural Maxwell.

MAXWELL – Beekeeping started out as a hobby for Susan Jones and business partner Don Charleston.

Three years ago, they bought their first hives and attended a beekeeping class.

Every time they needed new equipment or medicine, they had to pay expensive shipping charges to receive what they needed. So, they decided to open a shop of their own – Central Iowa Bee Supply.

Jones and Charleston offer just about everything that a beekeeper would need, from a rookie to a veteran beekeeper.

Much of what they sell they purchase from Dadant & Sons, a well-known bee equipment supplier that is based in Sioux City.

However, Central Iowa Bee Supply also offers equipment that is custom-made by Charleston, who is a full-time carpenter and part-time farmer and beekeeper.

He makes custom hives, a beekeeper’s toolbox and bottom boards for hives.

The toolbox, Charleston said, helps hold a beekeeper’s smoker in place, so it doesn’t cause a fire when moving from hive to hive.

The custom-made hives have some features that improve upon the basic design, such as a screen at the bottom to help keep some pests out.

Jones, who works full time for Iowa State University, is hoping beekeepers will use their store as an alternative to the mail-order and internet-based suppliers.

“We’re local. It’s cash and carry and it’s a convenience,” she said.

The store, open three days a week, is located in the garage of Jones’ home in rural Maxwell. It is open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, or by appointment.

For more information on Central Iowa Bee Supply, call Jones at (515) 450-8296 or visit www.cibees.com.

Contact Dave DeValois at dwdevalois@yahoo.com.

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