Beekeeping course for next Saturday

The Delaware Beekeepers Association is hosting a short course to introduce the public to the basics of beekeeping. The goal of the course is to prepare a novice to be a successful beekeeper this year and to lay the proper foundation for an enjoyable hobby and, if pursued, a profitable business. Topics will be honeybee biology, basic beekeeping equipment, the care and feeding of the “livestock,” and an evaluation of the beekeeping industry. There will also be a trip to a nearby apiary to examine actual hives and a discussion on honeybee mites. These mites have made beekeeping more complicated but have, for those willing to put up with the extra work, also made beekeeping for pollination very profitable.

Some of the speakers will include Dean Burroughs, one of the few “master beekeepers” in the region. He has turned a hobby into a profitable sideline business and, besides providing pollination services and selling honey, has developed a niche business making beeswax candles. Another speaker, Richard Hearn, a contractor by trade, has used many of his woodworking skills to improvise and experiment in improving his beehives. Mike Embrey, from the Wye Institute, has approached beekeeping as a source of organic food, but this, as he discusses, is difficult when one’s livestock can feed on whatever pollen and nectar within a radius of three miles that they want to.

Another problem with bees traveling so far is if there is a pest or a disease to be shared, the bees usually carry it to neighboring hives, which is one reason that the varroa mite has devastated the bee population. Robert Mitchell, the State Apiarist, will address ways to counteract this pest and protect one’s investment. One of the nice things about Delaware being small but nonetheless dotted with many truck farms and orchards is that the Department of Agriculture is very responsive to the needs of beekeepers. Thus, the new beekeeper not only has access to help from the state, but, by attending this short course, automatically becomes a member of the association, which meets monthly to discuss aspects of beekeeping.

The course begins at 9 a.m. at the Redden State Forest Education Center, breaks for a cover-dish lunch at noon with the Association providing meat and drinks, and closes at 4 p.m. The cost of the program is $25 for either an individual or a family. Youth by themselves are $10. This is an excellent way for youth, and especially the home-schooled, to get practical exposure to science, and they are encouraged to attend. The Education Center is east on Redden Road, which is about three miles north of Georgetown on Route 113.

For details on registration, contact Wes Townsend at (410) 641-1030 or at longjohn@mchsi.com.