Come Friday, May 31, Wade Stiltner won’t be quite so busy as a bee — professionally, at least.
For the past 18 years, Stiltner has worked as an apiarist with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. As such, he has been responsible for the inspection and well-being of the Mountain State’s bee hives and honey production. He has inspected thousands of hives throughout the state annually.
A Wayne County native who grew up on a farm there, Stiltner became an FFA member as a freshman at Buffalo High School. His first FFA project at BHS involved maintaining three bee hives.
He graduated from BHS in 1971 and continued his apiary interest as a hobby (he currently keeps more than 200 colonies of bees in his back yard) while working for a lumber company and later as a coal miner.
Stiltner was laid off from the mines in 2001. Afterward, seeing an employment advertisement for WVDA apiary inspectors, he joined the state agency on a part-time basis, moving up to a full-time slot five years later.
As Stiltner’s professional career wraps up this week, colleagues have praised him in recent weeks.
“Wade has done a tremendous job as the state’s lead apiarist over the last five years,” state Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt said in a WVDA media release. “His impact goes beyond the honey industry, as he has helped numerous hobbyist beekeepers in the state. He leaves big shoes to fill.”
“Wade has been an asset to the department,” WVDA Chief of Staff Norman Bailey said, “and we will miss having him around. We appreciated his straightforward approach and the professional experience he brought to the job. We hope he will continue to be a part of the agriculture community as he enters this new phase of life.”
Stiltner is a founding member of the West Virginia Queen Producers Association, as well as the West Virginia Beekeepers Association and several other apiary-related groups in West Virginia and Kentucky.