Employee Josh Scott does his part to help pollinators thrive

June 20, 2024

Scott caught the beekeeping “bug” and has become an advocate for pollinators. 

During National Pollinator Week (June 17-22), LG&E and KU celebrates the importance of cultivating pollinator habitats to support the role pollinators -- native bees, honeybees and monarch butterflies -- play in our ecosystems, economies and agriculture. Lead Key Account Manager Josh Scott is an avid beekeeper and advocate for the protection of pollinators. Scott shares how he was introduced to the world of beekeeping and how it’s become a rewarding hobby and much more.  

How did you get involved in beekeeping? Is your family also involved?     
I began my beekeeping journey toward the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Like many people, I was looking for a fun activity to occupy my evenings while we were mostly stuck at home. My mother-in-law came over for a visit and mentioned that she planned to get a nucleus of bees. That’s all it took. My curiosity was officially piqued, and I quickly flew down the rabbit hole. As an engineer, I tend to go way overboard when it comes to my hobbies, and beekeeping was no exception. I found myself watching hundreds of hours of beekeeping YouTube videos and reading every book on the subject I could get my hands on. My commutes were filled with beekeeping podcasts in the truck, and so on. Other than my mother-in-law, my family is not involved. My dad does help me with building beehives and other equipment. 

Where do you keep your hives and what is the daily process in caring for beehives?
I maintain my hives on my five acres in Oldham County. A bee yard is called an “apiary.” The hives are in close proximity to each other, but toward the back end of my property, mostly away from our house. In fact, they are located beside one of LG&E and KU’s transmission rights-of-way. Our Transmission team planted pollinator seed after a recent clearing, and it provides an awesome food source for my bees. I was very appreciative! Beekeeping is much like farming; the work is never done. It is a hot, back-breaking, grueling activity, but definitely a labor of love. 

Springtime is the busiest when the “flow” begins (a term used to describe when all the flowers and weeds are blooming). Honey extraction typically takes place in late spring to early summer, and then there are lots of management activities that must take place to prepare the bees for winter. Honeybees cluster together through the winter in the hive to maintain temperatures above 90 degrees no matter how cold it gets outside. They spend months inside the hive until spring when temperatures rise and they are able to take flight. Wintertime for the beekeeper is usually spent repairing equipment and preparing for the upcoming spring.

Employee Josh Scott
Lead Key Account Manager Josh Scott (above) can often be seen at the La Grange Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings selling the honey from his beehives and connecting with the community about the benefits of pollinators.

How do you extract the honey? 
In 1851, Reverend Lorenzo Langstroth invented the modern-day beehive (affectionately called a Langstroth) which focused on the removable frame. Honeybees will store nectar in honeycomb they build on these removable frames in boxes known as “honey supers.” The bees will cap and “cure” the honeycomb to pull the moisture content down from the nectar and convert to honey. This keeps the honey from naturally fermenting. Honey is hygroscopic, meaning it can absorb moisture from the air around it. However, honey is also hydrophilic meaning it can release moisture when the humidity is low. Sealed honey can literally last for thousands of years and virtually never go bad. When it is time to extract, I will remove the honey supers from the hives, pull the individual frames, remove the top cappings from the comb, place the frames in an extractor which in turn spins the frames rapidly to sling the honey out of the comb. It functions similarly to a centrifuge using centrifugal force to extract the honey. From there, the honey is placed into a bottling tank where it will settle until it is time to fill the bottles.

Where do you market/sell the honey you produce?
I have a Facebook page called “Bees in the Weeds” where folks can message me directly when in need of some honey. They will typically come to my door as I don’t ship a whole lot. I am also at the La Grange Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning. I maintain a YouTube channel where I showcase myself working with the bees, extracting honey, etc. for those who are interested in beekeeping. I like to educate those who are new to the art of beekeeping or just help my fellow “beek” (slang for beekeeper) as there are millions of questions when venturing into this hobby. You can find the channel at “Bees in the Weeds.”

I also sell beeswax and honeybees themselves besides just honey. Everything the honeybee produces is useful and marketable. They’re truly amazing little creatures. Fellow beeks will reach out to me when they are looking to increase their number of colonies, or a brand-new beekeeper looking to get started. They will purchase a nucleus or “nuc” which consists of a mated, laying queen and five frames of bees.

Much more awareness has been raised in recent years about the need to save bees and promote pollinator habitats. Can you explain your concerns and what drew you to become involved in being a steward of bees?
The Varroa Destructor mite was detected in the United States in 1987, and beekeeping was changed forever. This mite is single-handedly responsible for the vast majority of honeybee colony collapse and is public enemy #1. It attaches itself to the honeybee where it feeds off the fat bodies and essentially sucks the life out of the bee. It is also a vector for many debilitating viruses that harm and kill our bees. As beekeepers, we are constantly battling this mite and looking for ways to keep mite loads as low as possible. This is part of the fall management practices mentioned before. To ensure the proliferation of pollinators, we will need to continue to focus and research on varroa and identify new ways to win this waging war. Also, educating the public on responsible pesticide use is incredibly important. I know beekeepers who have lost entire colonies due to commercial and residential pesticide spray. It’s heartbreaking to witness.

What are your thoughts on LG&E and KU’s efforts to promote pollinator habitats? Why is it important?
LG&E and KU does an awesome job of promoting pollinator habitats and stewardship of bees! It always makes me smile when I see the latest LinkedIn post showcasing all the pollinator friendly flowers and weeds at the E. W. Brown solar field. Our Research and Development team has done a wonderful job providing online education material to the public expressing the importance of these habitats. 

In your role as Lead Account Manager, have you had opportunities to promote the company’s pollinator habitats with business customers? Have any customers gone so far as to create habitats on their properties or support ones in their communities?
I am blessed in my Key Accounts role that I am afforded the opportunity to get to meet and interact with some of our largest, most important customers. Many of these customers have their own sustainability goals they wish to achieve. During these conversations, I will take the opportunity to showcase our company’s efforts and suggest they do something similar for their local pollinators. The response and feedback have all been positive, and I hope to see some of these habitats come to fruition.

If a person wanted to start a pollinator habitat in their home garden, how should they get started?The company has a pollinator bill insert PDF available on our website titled “Beautifying Kentucky: Partnering to Grow Pollinator Habitats,” that provides a list of pollinator-friendly native plants to our area. The brochure also provides instructions on how to create a local habitat in your home garden. I suggest everyone check it out!

Are there local organizations or resources you would recommend for people interested in beekeeping? 
Absolutely. I tell all potential beekeepers that they need to spend the first year doing nothing but research and education before they ever get their first colony. There is a LOT to learn in beekeeping and the learning curve is steep. With that said, there are lots of good books on the subject and countless helpful YouTube videos. Joining your local beekeeping club also is critically important. Many will pair you up with a more experienced beekeeper who will provide some level of mentorship. Many clubs are on Facebook, or you could reach out to your local extension office for more details.

In addition, we have several beeks here at LG&E and KU -- Principal Engineer Adam Parks, P.P. Environmental coordinator Cody Gibbons and Materials Handling Supervisor Josh Glacken, just to name a few. If anyone is interested in getting started in beekeeping, just reach out to one of us and we will be more than happy to help. It’s a wonderful hobby that can be very rewarding and therapeutic.

Lastly, I believe that education and learning is a lifelong endeavor. The University of Florida’s Entomology school offers a Master Beekeeper program that I am currently enrolled in to attend. There are four levels (apprentice, advanced, master, and master craftsman). Each level takes approximately a year to complete. I aspire to complete this program over the next four years and am very excited to get started!

Happy “beeking,” everyone!