Thanks, bee­keep­ers! An ir­ri­tat­ing early morn­ing call

Record Observer - - Opinion - By DAN TABLER

A group of novice and vet­eran bee­keep­ers picked up new colonies of hon­ey­bees on Sun­day in Eas­ton.

Their ef­forts help lo­cal farm­ers. Bees are not only a source of honey for con­sumers but they also pol­li­nate nearly one third of all agri­cul­tural crops in the United States.

The hon­ey­bees came from an api­ary in Ge­or­gia. Mike Em­bry, who teaches classes on bee­keep­ing at the Univer­sity of Maryland Ex­ten­sion Of­fice in Eas­ton, and Bill Cock­ayne, who cur­rently has 12 colonies in the area, made the round trip drive and de­liv­ered the bees to keep­ers.

Suzanne Skel­ley of Greens­boro and her sis­ter came to pick up their bees and said they had taken one of Em­bry’s classes and thought bee­keep­ing would be a great thing to get it into.

“I think we got in­ter­ested be­cause we rec­og­nized that pol­li­na­tors and bees are hav­ing a hard time,” Skel­ley said. “There seems to be a grow­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion that they are pol­li­na­tors and they are un­der pres­sure.”

An­other new beekeper was Linda Turner of Kent Island. Turner had just taken Em­bry’s class in Jan­uary and was pick­ing up her first colony. Turner is a re­tired bi­ol­ogy teacher and knows how im­por­tant bees are to our en­vi­ron­ment.

Honey bees, both in the wild and in colonies, are dy­ing at un­prece­dented rates due to a com­bi­na­tion of pes­ti­cides, stress, dis­ease and mal­nu­tri­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Maryland Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

“What’s hurt­ing our bees is a com­bi­na­tion of every­thing, bad bee­keep­ing prac­tices, pes­ti­cides, de­ple­tion of their food sources,” Cock­ayne said. Other dan­gers are parasites, dis­eases and preda­tors.

“You see a lot of fal­low fields,” Em­bry said. “Fields where if they would have been planted with crim­son clover or some rape­seed last fall, that is a tremen­dous amount of bee food that the bees could of uti­lize now and it would be just plowed down when the farm­ers turn their fields for plant­ing.” “Bees need that food,” he said. “It used to be that bee­keep­ers could ex­pect to lose 10-15 per­cent of their bees,” Em­bry said. “Now we are los­ing 30 per­cent of our bees ever y year.”

Some at­tribute the de­cline to the bees be­com­ing weaker as a species, he said. Honey bees are not na­tive to Amer­ica and came to this coun­try with the colonists, and that alone may be a large fac­tor in colony loss.

“It could be at­trib­uted to the mites, maybe the amount of nu­tri­tion avail­able is not giv­ing them enough to build up on,” said Em­bry. “We know that there is a dif­fer­ent value of nu­tri­tion in dif­fer­ent plants if they don’t get the to­tal picture, you’re go­ing to start los­ing things.”

Em­bry stressed the im­por­tance of grow­ing more bee-friendly plants that can serve as a good nu­tri­tion source for bees. Good nu­tri­tion will lead to a strong colony and a strong colony is able to fight off mites, dis­eases and other en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors that may be wip­ing out the bees.

To learn more about bee­keep­ing, take one of Em­bry’s classes that are of­fered through the Univer­sity of Maryland Ex­ten­sion Of­fice in Eas­ton or at­tend one of the many bee as­so­ci­a­tion meet­ings that are held through­out the Eastern Shore. The Wye River Bees As­so­ci­a­tion meets the third Wed­nes­day of ev­ery month at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege and is open to any­one want­ing to learn more about bee­keep­ing.

We thank bee­keep­ers for do­ing their part to con­trib­ute to our agri­cul­tural out­put. And for the de­li­cious lo­cal honey! I do not at­tend the reg­u­lar meet­ings. I have be­come wrapped up in my fire com­pany (where I am also a 70-year mem­ber), and the Lions Club and my church, so you re­ally can’t get to many other meet­ings, etc.

Dad was very ac­tive in the Ma­sonic Lodge here when he was cashier of the Centreville Na­tional Bank so many years ago, and wanted me to join, so I did. But it wasn’t long be­fore he was named vice pres­i­dent of the Ni­code­mus Na­tional Bank in Hager­stown and my par­ents moved away. I be­came more in­volved in the Good­will Fire Com­pany by that time along with be­ing named sec­re­tary of the Lions Club, which kept me busy.

I must say I was happy to re­ceive a beau­ti­fully il­lus­trated book about the Ma­sonic Lodge of Maryland, that in­cludes pho­tos and a his­tory of each lodge in the state.

* * * FOOD BANKS NEEDED There was an in­ter­est­ing story in the Star-Demo­crat the other day about food banks in the state and how they are needed by peo­ple who are not get­ting enough to eat. It had some sta­tis­tics about Kent County’s food bank, but I can’t find the pa­per that I though I had put aside. I wanted to check with our food bank here at the Centreville United Methodist Church and see how many peo­ple they are serv­ing. It is open each Wed­nes­day, around noon, I be­lieve. There is a box or two in the hall­way of the church where do­na­tions of non-per­ish­able food can be left. I am sure they can use all the help you can give.

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