A Doctor, Beekeeper, and Mead Maker : "Along the Way"

Published: Feb. 20, 2018 at 10:10 PM MST
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Sometimes we think we know somebody just by the profession they work in.

This is the story of an area doctor who's passionate about his work.

But his medical career is only one dimension in the honeycomb of his life story.

There's more layers to his life than stripes on a honey bee, as we find out in this edition of 'Along the Way'.

Just a few miles west of Hermosa, a man walks with a story that can only be taken in, one step at a time.

Dr. Tom Repas says, "I'm the son of immigrants. My father came to the United States from Hungary, my mother from Germany. I'm a 1st generation American. I'm the first person in my family to go to college and beyond."

And beyond, is right. Not only a college graduate, but a medical doctor with a humble attitude, and impressive credentials.

Dr. Repas says,"I'm an Endocrinologist. I actually have 4 subspecialties; Endocrinology, Lipidology, Nutrition, and Internal Medicine."

Dr. Tom Repas and his wife Jeanne have been married for more than 20 years and have a teenage son.

And while he is passionate about his medical work and his patients, he chooses to work part time, leaving plenty of time for his other passions as well.

Repas, a beekeeper, says: "I was 13 years old in 1981. My father, grandfather, great grandfather were beekeepers and they gave me my 1st two hives and that was the beginning of a love of a most beautiful insect."

He has an observation hive in their home, so we can see those beautiful bees in action.

But not like we could in the summer. Repas says, Bee Beards are something beekeepers have been doing for a long, long time...but he had never worn one until last year.

"And so they automatically clustered and they wanted to cluster over my whole face and it's kind of hard to breathe and so I did use a business card or credit card to kind of keep them away cause I like didn't want to have them all over my nose and plus it was very ticklish, "he says.

Repas says that the one and only time he's done it, but says he hopes to make an annual tradition from now on. Outside we can't see inside the hives, but there's more happening in there than you might think..

"They're not hibernating. They are awake. They're clustered together to keep warm. The Queen Bees are starting to lay eggs now and so inside the middle of that cluster it's gonna be 92 to 95 degrees," Repas says.

He not only raises the bees for honey, he's a Queen Bee breeder and says he's trying to breed for bees that are tough and can survive our winters. It's like artificial insemination in animals, but with bees it has a different name.

Repas says: "So by doing the instrumental insemination with my Queen Bees, I can select from one colony with genetics that I like and another colony that's maybe not related that has genetics that I like . I can cross them exactly and I know what's in hive."

But beekeeping is not his only other passion. He says he's been a homebrewer of beer, cider, wine, and mead, off and on for about 25 years. Mead is honey wine.

He says: "Almost anything that you can think of that can be made as a beer. Almost anything that you can think of being made as a wine or a hard cider can be made as a mead."

And no surprise, his mead, is top notch.

Dr. Repas says: "There's a Mead competition called Mazer Cup International which is the largest, most respected, Mead competition in the world and not only have I gotten a lot of cups and medals but I've also been the only person to get Best of Show twice."

Right now, he can't sell the mead he makes, but there are some very interesting flavors.

Repas says, "The best of show that I won in 2017 was a pineapple mango habanero ghost chili mead."

Tom and Jeanne's goal is to open a Meadery in the Black Hills someday where they could make and sell their mead, and also sell their honey.

"But I believe if you're going to do something, why not do it well? Whether it's being a Doctor, or a beekeeper, or a meadmaker. I really am passionate about doing everything to the best of my abilities," Tom says.

And under the tall Ponderosa Pines in the hills west of Hermosa, this first generation American, shows the 'American Dream' is still alive and well.

He's just a guy that shows hard work pays off, and anything is possible.

And what struck me most, was how humble and down to earth he is.

If you've met someone cool "Along the Way" please call us or e-mail me at stevel@blackhillsfox.com to let us know.