Beekeeping one of Butler County prosecutor’s many hobbies

Veteran county prosecutors overwhelmingly tend to be a tough, no-nonsense bunch and there are certain words rarely, if ever, attached to them or their actions.

Words like “honey” or “sweet.”

But they apply to Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser’s beloved hobby when he dons his full body, protective suit and hood to tend to his beloved honey bee hives.

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A recent afternoon saw the 72-year-old Gmoser gently tending to a half-dozen hives at his rural home.

Unlike his hard-nosed, formidable courtroom presence, here he manipulates his hives’ honey and wax-covered slats gingerly, lightly coaxing the clinging bees to crawl away so he can inspect the home he gives them.

It’s a meticulous passion for the man who has been the county’s chief prosecutor since 2011 and a relaxing one from the high-profile responsibilities of his elected office.

And it’s a pastime that reinforces his courthouse work, said Gmoser.

“As a prosecutor it’s the attention to detail. When I’m representing the state (in criminal prosecutions) I want it right as best as I can make it right,” he said, while peeling off his full-body protective gear and mesh beekeeping hat.

“Beekeeping is a wonderful, focused distraction,” said Gmoser, whose love for bees started in childhood when a local beekeeper in his Wisconsin hometown responded to a boy’s curiosity by giving him a book on beekeeping.

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Since 1995, Gmoser’s hives have produced between 100 and 300 pounds of honey per season and he filters the raw honey — harvested from 300,000 to 400,000 bees — in a centrifuge on his property, bottling and labeling it as gifts to family and friends.

The homemade labels state: “Gmoser’s Legal Honey. Made by Bees. Bottled by a Prosecutor.”

The hobby is one of many for Gmoser. His garage includes a motorized paraglider, trampoline — he was a gymnast and interim coach at Miami University — and roller blades.

The space also houses his woodworking equipment — he constructs furniture — and he even has found time to rebuild a 1958 Corvette convertible into pristine running condition in between flying his own plane.

And then there’s his boating, duck hunting and rock climbing.

“I’m a type A personality, I think,” he chuckles.

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The buzz from Butler County beekeeping circles is that the chief litigator knows his way around a honeycomb, according to one of region’s most commercially successful honey producers.

“Mike is a good beekeeper,” said Don Popps, who is the state’s bee inspector for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Popps, whose own honey comes from more than 500 local hives and is sold at dozens of Southwest Ohio grocery stores, described Gmoser as “patient and very detailed in his hive keeping.”

At the core though, Gmoser loves nature. He is keenly aware of the vital role honeybees play in the pollination life cycle of crops, flowers and plants.

Providing safe, healthy and secure homes for what he describes as “nature’s perfect insect” is deeply satisfying, he said.

“Without the bees, we’re not going to have the crops. I just feel it’s important to do my part.”

“When I’m with bees there is a part of nature I feel close to. When the property here doesn’t have bees, I feel that it’s empty. I’ve had some years when nature has taken the bees because of freeze or disease, and I feel the property is sort of barren. But with bees I know it’s alive because they are in the clover and working the flowers,” he said.

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