Would-be beekeepers wantedPublished 7:45pm Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Though most fear the sting of a bee, it’s long been known that bees are instrumental to life — so much so that farmers rent them to pollinate their crops.
In Beaufort County, there’s a movement to inspire more people to learn about bees and help boost an ailing bee population in the U.S. by growing them locally.
The Beaufort County Beekeepers club is set to help ease the way for first-time hive owners with a free four-week Introduction to Beekeeping Course. The class will be held at the Beaufort County Agriculture Extension building, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 6, 13, 20 and 27. The beekeeping course is open to anyone interested in becoming a beekeeper.
“There is no requirement to become a member of our organization in order to take this course, or after completion. However, new membership is certainly encouraged,” said Tom Garcia, founder of the local beekeepers club. “This course is being offered to the public to promote awareness of the threats to honeybees, express the need for beekeepers, and invite anyone interested in becoming a beekeeper to join us.”
Garcia said the curriculum consists of just some core principles, but it’s up to the local club as to how the program is taught. As a self-taught beekeeper, Garcia will use his own experience to help pave the way for future beekeepers.
“I didn’t take a course like this, though I wish I would have,” Garcia said.
As president of the club, Garcia has his reasons for encouraging those with and without beekeeping experience to take the course.
“There’s two camps: one, in my effort as club president, I want to get as many people in our club going down the road to master beekeeper,” Garcia said. “That’s about a five-year program. Then the other part is just to get other people in the area interested in bees — especially the youth, I’d really like to see some younger people get involved as well. On one side we’re trying to enhance our current membership and on the other side, bring in new membership.”
According to Garcia, the course content will include information for the beginning beekeeper, ranging from honeybee biology, pathology, rearing techniques, equipment and a hands-on practical, with each session covering different topics.
Successful completion of the course will prepare students for the Certified Beekeeper exam, which includes a written and practical element. The exam takes place in April. The Certified Beekeeper designation is the first step to becoming a Master Beekeeper, per the North Carolina State Beekeepers guidance and requirements.
The beekeepers club is able to offer the course for free, as the extension agency is providing agricultural outreach funds for course materials.
“(Extension Agent Jacob) Searcy is a founding member of the beekeeping organization, and has been instrumental in supporting this new organization with necessary resources,” Garcia said.
Those interested in signing up for the course can register by email (email@example.com) or phone (801-706-7527). The deadline for registration is Feb. 5.