By Melonie Flomer
ROCKINGHAM — Saturday morning’s Beekeeping 101 class at the Richmond County Cooperative Extension was buzzing with fun facts, activities and instructional lectures for people hoping learn more about bees or to begin hives of their own this year.
The instructional series began with a lecture on the history of beekeeping, presented by David Stewart, followed by basic beekeeping tips from Marvin Powell, vice president of Richmond County Beekeepers. Next, a woodware demonstration by William Trivett, president of Scotland County Beekeepers, gave everyone a hands-on experience in how to build a hive body and insert frames.
The course, offered by the Richmond County Beekeepers, had 30 people in attendance. Beekeeper Fred Cloninger said the group “is one of the oldest groups in the state” and has been active since the 1950s or 60s.
“We have 12 newcomers this year,” said member Tammy Stewart, “and about one-third of the club members are also here today.”
Yvette Deese, one of those newcomers, drove from Union County to attend.
“I actually live on acreage out in Union County,” Deese said. “I always plant things, tomatoes and other vegetables, and I noticed after all the rain last year my plants weren’t doing well. I decided this would be a really cool thing, to do some beekeeping. Local honey is the best remedy for allergies to local pollen. We have enough allergy prescriptions in the world, but the honey — wild flower or other kinds — is a natural way to cure allergies.”
When Deese faces seasonal allergy attacks, she sips tea with local honey throughout the day and her symptoms disappear.
In addition to demonstrations on building hive bodies and harvesting honey from the racks, a bee station was set up outside the building with a hive in it. Beekeepers in protective veils and body gear zipped themselves inside the mesh tent station and showed the crowd how to carefully remove a slide without disturbing the bees, how to spot a queen bee and how to see bees eggs. A few stray bees buzzed around the outside of the tent, but all were pleasantly docile.
Once the group moved back indoors, Powell wrapped things up with some important caveats concerning threats to bee hives, such as infestations by hive beetles and wax moths.
Trivett said, “The best way to prevent infestations is to watch. Keep your hives in the direct sunlight to protect the bees.”
At the end of the day, Deese felt better informed about bees, honey and her new hobby.
“I’ve researched for a couple of years,” she said, “and it was on my bucket list, to see if I wanted to do it. As soon as I figure out the actual things I do need to start two hives, I plan to get started. I’m joining the association today because there are knowledgeable people here. This is a great hobby that will benefit the environment. The bee population is very important to agriculture.”
Richmond County Beekeepers meets at 7 p.m. every fourth Tuesday at the Richmond County Cooperative Extension.