Hive of information: Beekeepers gain knowledge at conference

Published 3:59 pm Friday, September 22, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Beekeepers looking to increase their knowledge came together at the Alabama Beekeepers Association annual conference in Clanton on Sept. 22 and 23.

Vice President Bill Evans said the event had record attendance. Several attendees were in their first few years in the industry.

Lori Miller of Clanton said she got her first hive a few months ago. She said the variety of classes offered at the conference was “excellent.”

“I make soaps, so a lot of times I will use honey and I will use beeswax in some of my soaps and lotions,” Miller said.

In talking to beekeepers to get supplies, Miller became interested in becoming one.

“They are very interesting animals,” Miller said of the bees. “They are our only pollinators — that is one of the most important things about keeping these bees. If we want food, we need these honeybees and we need to keep them healthy.”

Troy Allensworth of Union Grove said he had just completed his first year as a beekeeper. He was wanting to learn how to harvest and sell honey.

“In our area, we are wanting to try and help the orchards,” Allensworth said.

Elizabeth Wilkins of Enterprise became interested in beekeeping after being the first Youth in Beekeeping essay contest winner. She now has five hives.

“It’s very interesting,” Wilkins said.

She said she enjoyed looking at the conference vendors and learning about products that can be made with honey, such as lip balm.

“This is our second year, and I got my first beehive about a week before the conference last year,” Brian Kutz said. “I knew nothing about bees, except for what I read … We came and we learned a plethora of information.”

This year he was especially interested in learning to identify problems and how to take care of bees during winter.

The conference started with a presentation by Dr. Jim Tew on healthy bees.

He said many factors can impact a hive, including the queen bee flying off and taking a swarm with her.

“A healthy hive is for the moment, ” Dew said, emphasizing that age, movement and disease could threaten a hive at any time.

Several vendors at the event were selling equipment to help address some of these issues. Breakout sessions focused on particular topics relating to keeping a hive, extracting honey and making products with it.

Tew said beekeepers always strive for a premiere hive, but are seldom able to maintain it. He said the bees can often be unhappy simply because the man-made hive is not their natural habitat. However, Tew emphasized that if it were not for man-made hives preserving honeybees, there may be even fewer honeybees than there are.

“Reading about bees and how fascinating they are, and then learning that they were endangered,” is what got Chalene Taylor interested in being a beekeeper. She is in her first year.

Beekeeping was described as a combination of luck, beekeeping method and genetics.

A Welsh Honey Show was honest at the event for honey, beeswax, bee photography and products made from honey or beeswax.

The annual conference is held at the Clanton Performing Arts Center, provided to the association free of charge, thanks to the city of Clanton.