Winter Buzz

The bees might not yet be stirring, but midwinter is the time to decide if nurturing a hive is right for you.

The bees might not yet be stirring, but midwinter is the time to decide if nurturing a hive is right for you.

Beekeeping is a form of hobby homesteading that raises the bar. Not that canning can’t be dangerous — all that boiling water under pressure. Not that gardening can’t be challenging: there’s blight, there’s drought, there’s the horticultural failure to communicate.

But interacting with thousands of potentially stinging insects on their home turf is grassroots on a whole different level. It also has reverberations beyond the personal. Consider these statistics, put forth by a national beekeeping association: “One-third of the typical American diet depends on honey-bee pollination. Honeybees provide 80% of pollination for vegetable, fruit, seed, and flower crops. They pollinate the forage crops fed to dairy and meat animals, adding at least $10 billion to the value of more than 90 U.S. crops. Honeybees also provide $150 million in honey each year, and at least another $50 million in beeswax used in cosmetics, polish, and candles.”

It’s nectar for thought, although beginning apiculturists can also enjoy the purely personal rewards of maintaining a hive: a noble, well-established practice dating back around 5,000 years. Locally, beekeeper Stuart Van Meter leads a workshop January 17 at the Hendersonville Community Co-op. “This is the time of year to get ready,” he urges. Topics discussed will include equipment, the logistics of bee acquisition, and community resources. “We’ll provide the information you need to determine if beekeeping is for you,” says Van Meter.

1-3pm. 60 South Charleston Lane. $10 for co-op owners, $15 for non-owners. 828-693-0505. www.hendersonville.coop

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