Planting bee-friendly “pollinator” gardens is one important, low-fuss thing folks can do to help the worrisome plight of our best bees. (First identified in 2006, “Colony Collapse Disorder” — i.e., the alarming and largely unexplained disappearance of the western honeybee — remains a major concern for apiculturists and environmentalists.)
But it’s not sowing season, it’s January. And that means it’s time for more serious bee buffs to start learning how to actually start and maintain hives. This week, the Henderson County Beekeepers Association launches the 2017 Winter Bee School. Students will learn about equipment and terminology, acquiring bees, beekeeping responsibilities, and how to maintain a hive — not to mention the eventual payoff of a personal honey stash.
The course is steered by David Foti, vice president of HCBA, in a series of seven lectures scheduled Mondays, January 16 through February 27, at the Mountain Horticultural Center (455 Research Drive, Mills River). The series is followed by hands-on apiary sessions at Historic Johnson Farm (3346 Haywood Road, Hendersonville) held March 4, 11, 18, and 25, and April 8 and 22.
Foti is proud of the wide span of students the course typically draws — from farmers to doctors; from high-school students to retirees in their eighth decade. “Beekeeping knows no bounds,” he says. “I make the analogy to owning a cat or dog. It’s not for everyone, but a lot of us just need it in our lives.”
He emphasizes that the winter beekeeping school is a beginner course. Completing the whole series, though, gives students enough knowledge to start a beekeeping career and join Henderson County Beekeepers.
“It’s a journey,” muses Foti. “It requires a certain commitment of time. I don’t think anyone knows it all. However, by sharing our knowledge and supporting each other, we, as a community, tend to get good results.”