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Beekeeping serves community

Thanks to a bee sting received as a kid, my first instinct when confronted with any sort of honey bee is to run in the opposite direction.

It was fascinating and perspective-changing to have the chance last Tuesday to attend a meeting of the Heart of Virginia Beekeepers, where new and seasoned beekeepers use their time and energy to discuss their interactions and methods of caring for honey bees that are already benefiting the Heart of Virginia.

Club President Tommy Nelson, during the meeting, said those who signed up for the classes that are starting Jan. 18 at the Prince Edward County Extension Office include those located in Farmville, Victoria, Blackstone, Crewe, Cumberland and Amelia.

In the classes, Nelson said a new beekeeper would be mentored by a more experienced beekeeper. He said the students and mentors would read workbooks and answer questions new beekeepers would have rearing the bees needed to make honey or wax. A hands-on session will be held on a date to be announced, the organization’s Facebook page cited.

Plus, Club Organizer Mary Jane Morgan said often, honeybees aren’t aggressive or likely to sting unless threatened.

More so than a hobby, their beekeeping work has the potential to benefit agriculture and crops in the Heart of Virginia.

Recent declines of bee populations throughout the U.S. have been cited to have been caused by varroa mites among other stressors according to a study released in August by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Keeping honey bees healthy and thriving is enormously important to the environment, according to the USDA, which cited on its website that “one out of every three bites of food in the United States depends on honey bees and other pollinators.”

Though it may take work to be near honey bees without my skin crawling, I have enormous respect for their impact on the environment and the work members of the Heart of Virginia Beekeepers are doing in preserving and protecting them.

EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH is a staff reporter for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Emily.Hollingsworth@FarmvilleHerald.com.