Honeybees Need Your Help

01/16/2010 21:48

Honeybees Need Your Help (Saving the World, One Beekeeper at a Time)

By Steven Page

 

Since the days of early Egyptian civilization, bees have played a crucial role in man’s survival by pollinating flowers thus assuring production of one third of all food. Some of these foods are almonds, squash, cucumbers, watermelons, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, apples and oranges. Although honeybees survive in the wild, for thousands of years people have enjoyed domestic beekeeping. They assist the honeybees by providing a suitable home and help them overcome problems in exchange for collecting an excess portion of the bee’s honey. 

Wild honeybee colonies arrived in America from Europe in the 1630’s. For over 300 years they flourished, but after the arrival of two species of mites in the 1980’s the number of wild honeybee colonies plummeted.

Beekeeping is more difficult today because of new threats to honeybees. Honeybee colonies were common in the United States 30 years ago, but today only half of them remain. Since 1990 there are about one million fewer colonies. 

Beekeepers fall into three main categories, large commercial, small commercial and hobbyist. Large commercial beekeepers provide pollination services to fruit, nut and vegetable growers. Small commercial and hobby beekeepers produce local honey and provide some pollination services. 

Things you can do to help honeybees.

·         Don’t use unnecessary pesticides. Bees are insects and are susceptible to pesticides. Avoid spaying flowers. Spray when bees are not present and use less potent pesticides.

·         Provide homes for bees. Hollow trees provide homes for wild honeybee colonies while beehives provide homes for managed honeybee colonies.   Beekeepers often need to find locations to place additional beehives. Landowners with a suitable location can help by allowing beehives to be placed on their land. The landowner will benefit from increased fruit and vegetable production and a share of the honey.

·         Provide food sources for honeybees. Plants, shrubs and trees that produce nectar and pollen can enhance landscaping. Honeybees forage on tulip poplar trees, red maple trees, American holly, clover, asters and other flowers. Allow wildflowers to blossom in fields and along roads prior to mowing.

·         Support your local beekeeper. This is a win, win situation as local honey tastes good and is good for you. Honey has medicinal and health benefits. Buying locally produced food is environmentally and economically beneficial. 

·         Become a beekeeper.   There are fewer beekeepers today than in the past but interest is growing. The media coverage of Colony Collapse Disorder has enlightened the public about the importance of honeybees creating a renaissance in beekeeping from rural farms to the top of buildings in New York City. Beekeeping is a gratifying hobby with many benefits including the sweet reward of honey.

The Coweta Beekeepers Association is offering a beekeeping course February 27, 2010, at 8:00 AM, at the Asa M. Powell, Sr. Expo Center, 197 Temple Avenue, Newnan, Georgia. 

This course is an introduction to beekeeping and includes the knowledge required to become one. Topics include honeybee biology; the functions of the colony; equipment; assembling a beehive; lighting a smoker; best location for a beehive; honeybee installation; hive inspection; a year in the beehive; potential problems and how to remove honey. 

Cost, which is $50.00 in advance or $55.00 at the door, includes instruction, snacks and lunch, a copy of First Lessons in Beekeeping and 2010 membership in the Coweta Beekeepers Association. 

Preregister by sending a check for $50.00 to Coweta Beekeepers Association, Donna Lopes Treasurer, PO Box 587, Williamson, GA 30292. Include name, address, telephone number and email address. 

This year a family option is available. The fee is $50.00 in advance or $55.00 at the door for the first person. Additional family members may attend for $10.00 each. Each family will receive one copy of First Lessons in Beekeeping.

Early registration deadline is Feb. 22, 2010. Registration will be accepted on the day of the class but space is limited.

Coweta Beekeepers Association was established in 1999 and meets on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 pm at the Asa M. Powell Sr. Exposition Center. Most of the members, who live in Coweta and surrounding counties, keep bees. 

Steven Page at steve@cowetahoney.com or 770-683-2465 

Steven Page is a Certified Beekeeper in the Georgia Master Beekeeping Program and member of the Coweta Beekeepers Association and the Georgia Beekeepers Association.