Richmond County Daily Journal
The truth is the queen is not always loved.
The fact is sometimes it may be, “off with her head.”
The queen bee, that is.
Marvin Powell, Richmond County Beekeepers Association vice president, was among presenters Saturday morning at the Richmond County Cooperative Extension Service office, Rockingham, at an Introduction to Beekeeping class.
The careful side of beekeeping could at times be introducing the queen bee to a new hive. There were times, he said, when things go wrong and the bees don’t accept a new queen.
Since queens lay the eggs, they are essential.
One way to avoid that is to buy the entire hive from someone until a keeper is more experienced.
The classes began with the basics of bees and beekeeping, the assembling a bee hive and after lunch, live demonstration of bee handling.
Having a strong bee hive — with active bees — is important to protect the hive against invaders, such as a wax moth, he said.
Equally important was to set up a hive properly, and he gave simple hints like slanting a hive slightly forward at the front to allow drainage. Moisture in a hive can cause problems.
Until the 1860s people obtained honey by killing bees and tearing up the nests in logs and trees. Then the hive was invented. The same type of hive has been used ever since.
With bees, a basic hive can cost between $125 to $150. It can be cheaper to make one’s own and install the bees. Installing involves introducing a queen bee which at times can be risky to the queen if not accepted by the “girls” as Powell calls the worker bees.
A hive can produce a gallon of honey. Hive come in all sizes with one “super” stacked upon another. To get the honey out of the hive frames, a special extractor can be used.
Members of the beekeepers association work together well enough that extractors are often shared with others.
Bees produce wax, honey and propolis. Propolis is a resinous substance from buds or limbs of trees. It is used to seal the hive. When inspecting a hive, beekeepers have to use a special tool to pry open the sections of a hive because the bees have glued them together with propolis.
To insure the health of a hive and its contents, they should be inspected regularly. If beekeepers wait too long the tighter the bees will have glued the sections together.
For the really adventurous, Powell said bees can be collected from a swarm, which will eventually happen when bees leave a hive. He has a special bucket he uses to knock the swarm into. He said when they swam, bees are the most docile because they are full of honey.
Poplar trees are a major source of nectar for Richmond County bees, Powell said. Once they stop blooming, he said there was not a lot of honey production from flowering plants. In some cases, bees are fed with sugar water.
The equipment to begin beekeeping can be relatively inexpensive. The experience of members of the Beekeepers Association is available to anyone starting out. Like bees, they like to always expand the hives in Richmond County; and welcome new members.
Being stung was not much of an issue expressed at the meeting.
Saturday’s classes ended with lunch and then a demonstration by Josh Richardson of bee handling in a special screened demonstration cage borrowed from Moore County beekeepers.
Richardson is now kept busy full time building hives, raising bees for others and providing hives for farmers for pollinating crops.
For information, call the Extension office at 997-8255. As of Saturday, there were 39 members of the local association with room for more. As a group, they are involved in several activities being busy like bees from conducting demonstrations to cooking contests to partying.
Contact reporter Tom MacCallum at 997-3111, ext. 15; e-mail email@example.com.