I learned hands on skills in the shop you see in the background of this image, As a kid i was taught to try to build it if i can think of it. The outcome has been incredible and i have learned very fast how fortunate i was to have creative access in a family shop at such a young age. To this day all of our vaporizers are still built in that very shop you see, its not insulated and were not in the south, no matter the weather people are in that shop because we believe in the difference that we are making for the beekeeping community. -Rob
It actually all started in a basement room of our home. I decided to grow strawberries with grow lights, but I got zero strawberries. Well, I would get small berries but they never grew or turned red. I started to do some research and as it turned out, the berries needed to be pollinated, so I started tickling/ hand pollinating each flower's berry and some did eventually turn red, but it really was a lost cause.
Then that summer, my mom, who has about 75 feet of blackberry bushes, was having her fourth year of little to no blackberries. With 75 feet of blackberries, she should have had blackberries by the gallons like she had in previous years, but she had only a few quarts. She had contacted everyone she could think of for help. Did the cane have a disease or an insect problem? No one could help her. Then I walked up to her one day and said “mom, you need bees!!! Your berries aren’t getting pollinated.” She thought I was crazy at first, but quickly came to realize that was the missing link.
I found a local guy, Pat, in a bee association that welcomed me into his bee club. I started learning and watching a ton of YouTube videos to learn what beekeeping was. I was hooked and bought my first bee nuc and set it up in the yard. Pat became my mentor and advisor and my go-to person as I learned about the trials and tribulations of beekeeping. However, at this point, it was pretty late in the season, so it was too late for the berries that year, but we’d be ready for next year!
Then over winter, I ordered 4 more nucs. Mom and I drove in my Honda Civic to pick them up about two hours away. We didn’t have any bee suits or any equipment with us (what did we know). When we got there, the guy had 4 white boxes of bees and asked us where we wanted them. We had no idea what to expect when we got there and we certainly didn’t expect these rectangular boxes and didn’t think ahead about what to do with them, so I told the guy to put them in the back seat of the car.
So Mom and I are driving back with 4 boxes of bees in the car. We get about 30 minutes from home and bees start flying around us….a few just at first and then more. Mom looked back and saw that one of the boxes wasn’t sitting flat and was open! In her hurry to “right” the box, she actually turned it sideways and the box opened! So here we are riding down the road with an open box of bees flying all around us. We didn’t want to open the window in fear of losing the queen. At the traffic lights, we must have looked ridiculous to other drivers. We were jerking our bodies around trying to get the bees off of us without getting stung. Well, we got to my pop’s yard and had to CAREFULLY get out of the car because the bees were on everything….the seat, the door handle, EVERYWHERE! Once out of the car, we removed all 4 of the boxes and then I got the leaf blower and blew the bees out of the car! Yes!! There were that many bees! They were even in the trunk!!
So now we had our 5 hives and were ready for blackberry season…..then something unexpected happened….I discovered we had varroa mites in the hives. Not knowing what to do, I contacted Pat. He said that I need an oxalic acid vaporizer. I went online to find there was a $500 option and some guy, Johno, was making them. Well, I couldn’t afford the $500 option and honestly for 5 hives, it seemed like overkill, so I ordered one of Johno’s units. Unfortunately, I was told the wait to get one was months long. I needed to treat these bees now before I lost them all. So Pat offered to lend his unit. He is an hour away, but I would drive up, borrow his unit, treat my bees, and take it back. I did that every 5 days for about 6 weeks until I was sure the mites were gone. During this time, Johno announced that he would be retiring and my unit would not be coming, so I decided to create my own vaporizer. My mom thought I was crazy, but supported me, so I went to work. I tinkered and designed and tinkered and redesigned. I had failed attempt after failed attempt and finally one day I ran into her and said “I DID IT! I got the vaporizer to work!” I couldn’t believe it, but it worked. I was sooo happy. Finally, on my last trip up to show pat my progress we talked about how many other people likely had the exact same struggle like i did and i decided to take to youtube to get some feedback/exposure to new beekeepers.
With a lot of time and a ton of effort, I had made a vaporizer that worked and that I could share with the beekeeping community! That is how Lorob Bees, LLC came into existence.
And if you’re wondering what Lorob Bees stands for….well that’s my mom’s name, Lori, and my name, Rob, meshed together to form Lorob Bees.
Bees are my peaceful place. They are my happy place. I enjoy digging into the hives and seeing what the queen is doing. I enjoy seeing that she is happy and healthy and laying eggs. And now, by making OA vaporizers, I am helping other beekeepers keep happy and healthy bees too! And that is my true reward in life. This venture has given me so much quality time with my mother and grandfather that I would not have had otherwise due to my own push to find my place in this world. The beekeeping community has welcomed all of us with open arms and the feeling of satisfaction in thinking that we helped over 2,000 people keep healthy bees in our first year with our vaporizers is just absolutely incredible and crazy to imagine. Only one person can manage so many hives, But every beekeeper makes an incredible impact. I can't wait to see what the future holds.
Rob Pollock, President - Son - Beekeeper