Master Beekeeper Shares Stories at Robbins Library
Without the help of bees, human beings might starve to death.
Master Beekeeper Ellis Hardison recently shared his beekeeping expertise at the Robbins Area Library. Hardison has been keeping bees for more than 50 years and is regional president of the N.C. Beekeepers Association.
As a Master Beekeeper, he travels the world to learn from other experts and to share his vast knowledge of bees and the art of producing honey.
Two years ago, he attended a sort of "beekeepers convention" on the other side of the world. The gathering, Apimondia 2007, took place in Melbourne, Australia. There, Hardison had the opportunity to explore and visit with beekeepers from Tasmania. Since then, he has incorporated what he learned into presentations like the one in Robbins.
Hardison schedules his trips for winter seasons. A recent trip took him to South Africa, where it was summer in January while back home in the United States it was winter.
The reason he does this, he says, is because beekeepers are very busy in the summer. That is when they must tend their hives closely.
Summer is the time for a hive's honey production as bees store honey against a flower-less winter season, Hardison said. At the library, he accompanied his entertaining and informative talk with a slide show illustrating his adventures for the library crowd.
"Honeybees have a strict social structure," he said. "If the hive flourishes and there are plenty of flowers for nectar, there will be an abundance of honey. At harvest, a good beekeeper takes only half of the honey while leaving the rest for the honeybees to use during the winter."
Hardison made it clear that honeybees are an important part of our ecosystem. Currently, America's essential hives are threatened by a so far unexplained disaster called colony collapse disorder (CCD).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture set aside $1.4 million to study the phenomenon. Thousands of samples have been taken from hives to be analyzed for pathogens and pesticide residue.
Researchers are studying individual pesticides and combinations of them, trying to find out if they have unfortunate sublethal effects or if, when combined with some other factor like a virus, they contribute to CCD.
Some counties and cities have passed laws to support hives and beekeeping. In Greensboro, for example, lot size determines whether or not hives are permitted and how many are allowed. The city allows one colony per 2,000 square feet on lots between 7,000 and 12,000 square feet. There is a maximum of six colonies on lots of that size, but larger properties may have up to 20 colonies of bees.
Many families in Robbins used to keep beehives, but there are fewer now who do. Some local beekeepers in town, however, actually "rent" their colonies, trucking the hives to different areas in support of agricultural production.
Hardison's visit was one of a regular series of informative presentations the Robbins Area Public Library schedules each month.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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