New Bern hosts beekeeper's spring conference
By Sarah Finch
North Carolina Coastal Land Trust Deputy Director Janice Allen says honey bees are an integral part of our ecosystem.
“If you eat fruits, nuts or vegetables, you have to thank a honey-bee or another pollinator. More than 80% of our flowering plants and 1/3 of our foods, rely on pollinators.”
North Carolina State Beekeepers Association President Rick Coor says this trend is reflected in their membership.
“The NCSBA has about 4,100 paid members for 2015. It’s the largest bee-keeping organization in the United States.”
“Beekeeping is not losing its popularity. Our bee schools are full. The bee schools are led by the local chapters. We have over 70 chapters. And overall they’re well done and they’re well attended. People enjoy them very much.”
These start-up hobbyists only require basic beekeeping equipment, including the wooden hive, a full length bee suit, a smoker, hive tool and of course the bees.
North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Eastern Region Apiary Inspector Adolphus Leonard says it’s a rewarding pastime that can be relatively inexpensive.
“It all depends on what equipment you already have, but a few hundred dollars will get you started. And recently there’s been a new interest with honey bees, because of the nationwide attention that honey-bees got in the pollinator decline problem. So many people have taken an interest in bee-keeping, and that’s a good thing.”
A hobby bee-keeper himself, Leonard says it’s a great way to connect with friends, local clubs and Association Chapters, while learning how to be a part of the bigger picture.
“Well if you love honey bees it’s quite relaxing. It’s a good diversion, it helps you get back to nature. It’s a great hobby for getting your mind off of work, and there’s always something new to learn.”
With constant changes in the apiary world, it’s important to stay on top of bee-keeping concepts. There are four levels to which aspiring bee-keepers can reach. Certifications start after the first year and continue until the Master Craftsman title is achieved, a position which has to be renewed every five years.
Founding member of the Crystal Coast Bee-keepers Association and Down East Public Library Manager Tia Douglass explains how it starts.
Whether you’re an expert or interested in learning about bee-keeping, this Spring Conference offers something for everyone, including vendor booths, committee meetings, Master Beekeeping Testing, a children’s program, and speaker forums. The weekend schedule includes 29 workshops, with topics ranging from ‘How to Design a Honey House’ to ‘Honey Bee Pheromones’.
Tia Douglass says it’s a wonderful opportunity to catch up with good friends and learn more about honeybees.
“There’s all kinds of good things going on. They meet in the auditorium and there’s a lot of talks and then in the afternoon there’s actually classes that you go to. All the bee-keeping vendors are out there and you can buy all kinds of things. They have a wonderful silent auction where people donate things to raise money for honey-bee research.”
To learn more about this event, visit: www.ncbeekeepers.org