Thursday, April 30, 2015

Backyard beekeeping Washington Post article 4-29-15

Editor's note from Dr. Kathy: 

This is the beekeepers group 

to which I belong and 

participate in as a mentor.

Classes are held every year

in Feb. through April.

In parts of Virginia, backyard 

beekeeping is more popular 

than ever

 April 29
Concern about the plight of the honeybee has sparked a surge of interest in backyard beekeeping in Northern Virginia.
Interest is so high that two local beekeeping clubs say they are being stretched to keep up with the demand. Introductory beekeeping classes offered in Loudoun and Prince William counties fill up quickly every year, and waiting lists carry over from one year to the next, beekeepers in both counties said.
“Backyard beekeeping is extremely popular and on the rise,” said Louise Edsall, a member of the Prince William Regional Beekeepers Association. “I meet people every day who say, ‘I want to do this.’
“They know the bees are in danger, and they want to do their part,” she said.
Edsall, who lives near Manassas, said that the Prince William club began having a surge of applicants for its classes five or six years ago.
“We fill up before we even advertise,” she said. One year, about 100 people showed up for an open house promoting a class that had only 25 slots. Class members are assigned a mentor to help them during their first year of beekeeping, so the class size is limited by the number of available mentors, Edsall said.
The Loudoun Beekeepers Association, which brings in 60 new beekeepers a year, also assigns mentors to families and individuals who take the eight-week Introduction to Beekeeping course, said Britt Thomas, association president.
Members of both clubs credit the growing interest in beekeeping to reports of significant declines in the worldwide population of honeybees that started about 2007. The reports attributed massive die-offs of honeybees to “colony collapse disorder,” a phenomenon that is still not fully understood, club members said.
Matt Gaillardetz, a former president of the Loudoun Beekeepers Association, said that honeybees, as pollinators, play a critical role in agriculture and the environment as a whole.
“When bees are disappearing, there’s certainly a great amount of concern,” Gaillardetz said. In addition to colony collapse disorder, the honeybee population is also threatened by varroa mites and chemicals in fertilizers,herbicides and pesticides, he said. Thomas said a healthy colony typically has 40,000 to 60,000 honeybees. Unless the hive is closed, the bees are free to forage and pollinate, and they can travel up to five miles. “They have an amazing homing sense,” he said.
Thomas, of Purcellville, said he got started four years ago with two colonies of bees. This year, he will have close to 40 colonies.
“I got into it because it was doing something right for nature. It’s kind of like this win-win-win thing,” he said, noting that one of the “wins” for successful beekeeping is a crop of fresh honey.
The prospect of harvesting raw honey also appealed to Jennifer Del Grande of Purcellville, who attended a field day for beginning beekeepers in Loudoun on Saturday.
“I have three kids, and I thought it would be a great way to help with seasonal allergies,” Del Grande said, citing reports that raw honey can help with allergies. “They love honey, and it’s a wonderful way to help the bees.”
Barnes is a freelance writer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The White House annual Easter Egg Roll interrupted by Bee Swarm

Editor's note from Dr. Kathy-wonderful teachable moment if you ask me! :)

Obama’s White House Easter Ruined By Bees [Video]

Obama at the Easter Egg Roll, courtesy of Time.
President Obama’s attempt to read Where the Wild Things Are to a group of children at the White House was thwarted by a small swarm of bees.
According to WND, Obama’s annual Easter Egg Roll was interrupted by the insects on Monday morning on the South Lawn of the White House. The bees didn’t attack President Obama himself, but by flying around the heads of the children, the bugs evoked a sense of terror and panic among the kids. In the middle of Obama’s reading, many of the children started to scream and shout about the buzzing insects. Obama tried his best to calm the kids down, but too many of them were too rattled by the bees to listen.
You can see footage of the bees swarming Obama at the White House Easter event in the video below.
According to the Associated Press, when Obama heard the screams of the children, he looked up from Where the Wild Things Are and attempted to ease the nerves of the children by telling them that bees are good.
“Oh no, it’s a bee!” Obama said. “That’s OK guys, bees are good. They won’t land on you. They won’t sting you.”
Despite Obama’s reassurance, the kids were still not happy with the lingering bees. One child shouted out that the bees were “scary.” Obama tried to keep the children focused on the book by tying in the story of Where the Wild Things Are.
“Hold on! Hold on!” Obama said over the children’s shouts. “You guys are wild things! You’re not supposed to be scared of bees when you’re a wild thing!”
After awhile, the kids calmed down and Obama was able to finish reading the story.
The irony of the swarming bees ruining Obama’s Easter reading is that his administration has worked to protect honeybees and other endangered creatures that work to pollinate plants. Scientists agree that bees are essential to the continued stability of the ecosystem, and with more and more bees disappearing every year, it’s important to maintain the population of the helpful insects. In fact, at another station of the White House Easter Egg Roll, the Obama administration was handing out Burpee garden seeds to children to encourage them to plant flowers and other plants to help the bees.
According to a previous report from the Inquisitr, Obama and the White House have been urged by four million environmental activists to establish legislation protecting the habitats of honeybees.
[Image of Obama courtesy of Time]


Monday, April 6, 2015

Lutheran Church in D.C. maintains beehive on roof and sells honey for money for World Hunger

What’s the buzz?

This congregation in Washington, D.C., will tell you

Tom Knoll likes to talk about the day First Trinity Church, Washington, D.C., went from 150 members to 15,150 and this “Lutheran megachurch” became all the buzz.
That was last April when some 15,000 bees arrived, were blessed and, as the pastor says, “they became Lutheran.” But it gets even better. At the height of last bee season (June), the Lutheran bee colony housed on the roof of the tiny urban church grew to about 70,000.
First Trinity has a history of caring for creation, banning plastic foam products,
changing to more energy efficient light bulbs and buying into cooperative electrical energy. Then a light bulb above Knoll’s head went on: why not install beehives on the roof?
This process was possible, or at least made easier, because member Paul Diehl has been a beekeeper for decades and teaches classes in beekeeping.
Both Diehl and Knoll are quick to encourage other congregations to do something similar. They know bees are crucial to earth and human survival. Bees are the main pollinators of the fruits and vegetables we eat, and the flowers we enjoy. But they’re dying at an alarming rate, which concerns scientists and folks like Diehl and Knoll.
When their idea started to take shape, only a few other buildings in our nation’s capital had bees on their roof — the National Geographic building and the White House, Knoll said.
Last winter, the congregation placed an order for a queen bee and 15,000 worker bees, which arrived in a 3-pound box and then settled on First Trinity’s roof.
Diehl, who Knoll describes as a “bee evangelist” is filled with bee facts and hive details. One of the first myths he put to rest is the danger of bees, using words like “tame,” “docile” and “passive” to describe them.
The Lutheran bees spent the summer pollinating nearby gardens, including those on Capitol Hill, and producing 12 gallons of honey that the congregation bottled last September on “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday.

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