by Luke Osteen
Rose Mary Achey first began beekeeping five years ago when she attended her first “Bee School.” Local Bee Clubs typically offer schools in the early spring to help educate new beekeepers. Her interest in raising bees derived from a desire to pollinate her lavender.
It’s been a steep learning curve but as she gained more knowledge about the fragile but resilient honey bee, she became more passionate than ever about helping these creatures survive. There are several threats to honey bees – pesticides, herbicides, numerous pests such as Varroa Mites, Colony Collapse Disorder and a reduction in native foraging areas are all leading to a decline in the bee population.
Rose Mary has read extensively on the subject and understands that without these pollinators, about one-third of produce in a typical grocery will disappear.
That’s a sobering thought.
Rebecca Wiler’s interest in honey bees was sparked by her involvement with the Joy Garden Tour. This tour’s 2019 theme is “Garden and Bee Happy.” Rebecca’s volunteer role with the tour was to assist with the speakers.
As Rebecca learned more about the honey bee and the numerous stressors on the hive, she also wanted to be a part of the solution and help the honey bee survive and thrive. When Rose Mary sold her farm and needed a place to keep her bees, Rebecca offered her property and, as they say, “the rest is history.”
Working the hives together has been not only a fun learning experience for Rebecca and Rose Mary, but extremely practical. When one is out of town, the other steps in to monitor and manage the hives. During the excellent honey flow we have experienced in Western North Carolina this year, the hives need inspection and rotation about every three days. Having two beekeepers working in the hives cuts the work in half and provides a sounding board for issues and problems that arise.
Another resource for beekeepers is the Jackson County Beekeepers Club. Meeting once a month (Third Tuesday, 7:00 PM, at the Jackson County Extension Office in Sylva), the club provides information, education, mentoring and support for local beekeepers.
Rose Mary and Rebecca invite everyone to come out and see their bees and sample some honey on Wednesday, July 3, at the Village Green’s Farmer’s Market. They’ll have an observation hive set up from 3:00 to 4:30 P.M.