The buzz heard at Warren County Administrative Offices last Saturday was the Highland Rim Beekeepers Association and its annual class that attracted more than 40 people interested in becoming beekeepers.
Members of the association often develop a passion for bees.
“Bees are important to the environment and they are very interesting,” said member Mary Bell. “There are field bees, worker bees, drone bees, the queen. Just to sit and watch them is fascinating. Did you know a bee hive is one of the cleanest places you can be? They keep it very clean. If a bee knows it is going to die, it will go outside the hive in order to keep the hive clean. If the queen dies they will actually pick a female to replace her as queen.”
The objective of the association is to educate, inform and share ideas and interests involved with the keeping of bees. Club members teach the trade in an effort to revive a dying art and help honeybees repopulate.
Bees are agents of cross-pollination, and many plants are entirely dependent on particular kinds of bees for their reproduction. The use of insecticides for agricultural pest control has created the unwelcome side effect of killing the bees necessary for maintaining crops.
Such environmental stresses, plus several species of parasitic mites, devastated honeybee populations in the United States beginning in the 1980s.
The class offers students the basics of Beekeeping 101, which is how to buy and/ or build a horizontal or vertical beehive, how to order bees, how to maintain and care for the hive to keep it healthy, how to handle the hive, how to tell if the hive has swarmed, and safety equipment to be used when inspecting the hive.
Member Darwin Gooch now shares a fascination of bees.
“Bees amaze me,” said Gooch. “My wife and I got started on beekeeping several years ago. We put out hummingbird feeders and it attracted honeybees. We thought ‘OK, let’s put out a bee hive.’ We put out one box and now we have nine. It’s amazing to watch them. They are very interesting. My wife enjoys it almost as much as I do.”
While safety equipment varies for beekeepers, the basic gear is a bee suit, complete with hood and gloves. Annie Gooch encourages all of the above and being diligent about it.
“Once I forgot to fasten the top of my suit around the collar. The bees found their way in. They are attracted to the carbon dioxide when we breathe. I was stung more than 30 times on my neck, chest, and arms. That was the last time I forgot.”
Individuals interested in learning more about Highland Rim Beekeepers Association are encouraged to attend a monthly meeting or visit www.highlandrimbees.com. The club meets every month on the second Thursday at 6 p.m. at Warren County Administrative Offices in its Magnolia Room.