Honey, stings, allergies and flowers are some of the things that come to mind when bees are mentioned. What many people don’t realize is their role in pollination is what brings many foods to the table— apples, almonds and pumpkins to name a few. Sadly, more than 25 percent of the managed honey bee population has disappeared in less than 25 years.
West Virginia had 1,600 beekeepers in 2010, managing 13,000 hives. That number went down to 1,146 beekeepers managing 11,310 hives.
A condition called colony collapse may be responsible for some of the bee loss. The cause for the condition has not been pinpointed, but viruses brought into the country from imported bees may be responsible. Losing bees discourages beekeepers, who may not replenish their hives after a loss, or quit beekeeping altogether.
The Corridor G Beekeepers Association (CGBA) has 28 members from Mingo, Logan, Boone and Lincoln counties. The CGBA is one of the 26 associations that make up the West Virginia Beekeepers Association (WVBA). Members of these associations encourage and educate local beekeepers as well as assist with any problems they are having.
Greg Castle is President of both CGBA and the WVBA and has a wealth of knowledge and information about beekeeping and the benefits it has.
“Bees are the only insect that makes a food man can eat,” said Castle, ”Bacteria won’t grow in honey and it is a natural antibiotic. Honey is also used as treatment for burns and to rejuvenate skin. Bee venom is being used to treat arthritis and multiple sclerosis.”
Castle speaks at schools hoping to inspire interest in beekeeping and he participates in classes for beekeepers. The CGBS will have a class on Saturday, March 9 at Chapmanville Middle School. The class will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with registration beginning at 8 a.m.
The registration fee of $25 includes a book about bees, handouts, and many informational contacts. The fee can be mailed to Kathy Watson, 708 Covert Branch Road, Chapmanville, WV 25508, or paid the day of the class. Pre-registration is not required and walk-ins are welcome.
For more information, call Greg Castle at 304-946-2071, or Tony Meadows at 304-524-7690.