Beekeeping class creates buzz
MOULTON — The Lawrence County Exchange office was all abuzz Saturday as beginning beekeepers gathered for a course on the basics of caring for a honeybee hive.
Beekeepers from across north Alabama watched a demonstration of a honey extraction and heard from several speakers about how to establish and maintain a hive.
“Once you get into #beekeeping, you kind of get addicted,” said Mount Hope resident Lamar Roberson, a member of the Tennessee Beekeepers Association. “I’ve been in it 40 years, and I’ve got 18 hives. It’s a relaxing hobby you can enjoy.”
Association Secretary David Hicks said honeybee keeping isn’t just a fun hobby.
“I’ve seen honey sell for $18 a quart,” Hicks said. “It’s also important for our food supply because honeybees are important for pollinating. About 30 percent of our food requires #pollination — either from honeybees or wasps.”
Winston County resident Candy Newman traveled from Houston to attend the class because she hopes to start a honeybee hive.
Newman and her husband purchased a 45-acre farm and began raising a few crops.
“The #bee population has been decreasing worldwide, but they are so important for the world,” Newman said. “Having a bee hive will also help me on my property with growing in my garden. Honey is the world’s perfect food. It never spoils, and it’s medicinal and nutritious.”
Hicks said beekeeping is relatively easy for all people to enjoy — even if they’re on a busy schedule.
“If you’re interested in starting a hive, just go spend a day with someone who has #bees to see what they do,” Hicks said. “When it’s really busy in the spring and summer, it probably takes an hour or two a week to take care of the hive. When you extract the honey, you’ll probably need about half a day to do that and then get it put into jars.”
Hicks said the initial investment for starting a bee hive is typically no more than a few hundred dollars.
“All you really need is boxes and frames to put the bees in and a bee suit,” he said. “And, of course, you need the bees, but you can get those in a kit that’s already bonded as a family. You can order them in the mail, or you can catch your own #swarm.”
Harry Porter, of Colbert County, said anyone who’s never seen a swarm of bees has missed out on a special experience.
“It’s nature at work,” Porter said. “It’s like you’re connected with nature.”
The association offers the beginner course at least once each year, though meetings are held at Moulton City Hall on the second Thursday of even-numbered months. The next meeting is April 14 at 7 p.m.
“Interest is picking up because we had 33 registered this year but only 15 last year. If you’re interested in starting a hive, join a club and take a class to help you,” Roberson said. “Find a beekeeper that has been doing it for a long time. It’s something you can really get into.”