Thanks, beekeepers! An irritating early morning call
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.