Honey bees are an essential catalyst for food production and members of the Barbour County Beekeepers Association say learning how to keep a hive is a great way to help the environment.
The association hosted its annual field day picnic on Saturday at the home of Joyce and Rose Frey on Route 92 between Nestorville and Kasson. The Frey family has been raising honey bees for several decades.
"Almost all of our garden vegetables, fruit trees, everything you eat basically, are pollinated by honey bees," Joyce Frey said. "There are more than 90 different species of food sources in West Virginia that are pollinated by honey bees. If we don't have them, then we won't have a food source."
Club members spent the morning doing hands-on activities and learned how to build a solar wax melter from household materials.
Later in the afternoon, members also opened a few of the hives to do a "sugar shake" test for mites.
While in the bee yard, a question and answer session covered lots of information about the daily operation of an apiary.
"If we don't have younger people coming in and keeping bees, then we aren't going to have any managed bees," Joyce Frey said. "The younger generation needs to step up and learn to take care of honey bees. It's their food source and it's something they will have to pass on to their children."
Wild honey bees are disappearing in large numbers across the nation and Joyce Frey said it is a cause for concern for future generations. She said many different factors are contributing to the decline and said raising a hive is beneficial because it can be monitored closely.
"Honey Bees are not easy to raise," Joyce Frey said. "There are so many different diseases, viruses and mites out there, that you have to constantly get into your hive and work with it. Over wintering is also difficult, because it's difficult to keep them alive."
The club also made plans to observe National Honey Bee Day on August 20. The 2011 National Honey Bee Day theme is "Building a Sustainable Future, One Flower at a Time" and activities will take place at Adaland Mansion, just outside Philippi.
Beekeepers and anyone else interested in beekeeping are encouraged to attend club meetings and learn ways to support, help and save the honey bee. For more information call Joyce Frey at 304-457-2177.
Contact Ben Simmons by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.