Appalachian Bee Club sets out to teach about the importance of beekeeping

Brandon Paykamian • Mar 20, 2018 at 10:51 PM

Appalachian Bee Club President Wendy Brown has been working for years to help the region’s bee population regain strength after its 85 percent decline in Tennessee. 

Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the club will hold its beginning beekeeping school to teach attendees more about how to keep bees and educate them on other ways to help maintain and encourage population growth among these insects that play such a vital role in the ecosystem.

“It will be in a classroom setting, but we will have experienced beekeepers from across the area to show people everything from how to keep your bees and get your honey from them,” Brown said. “We want to teach people to not be afraid to do beekeeping.”

The event will be held in the BrightRidge Auditorium at the utility’s headquarters, 2600 Boones Creek Road, Johnson City. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. Participation is $20 and $5 per person extra for family members older than 16. The event is free for children younger than 16.

Brown said beekeeping has started to become a “lost art.” Coupled with the increasing use of pesticides, she said bee populations have suffered. The upcoming event is one of many she has helped organize in the past to educate people about bees. 

Without bees and the pollination they provide, she said the result is simple: “no food.”

“We won’t be eating. Without bees, there’s no food. They are responsible for more than a third of what we eat. All fruits, almost all vegetables,” she said. “You would literally see grocery stores devoid of produce, except corn. And I think a lot of people don’t realize that. That’s why this training is desperately needed.”

To help protect bees, Brown said more people need to learn how to help encourage their reproduction and reduce damage to existing bee populations. For people who don’t choose to take on the task of beekeeping, they can learn more about what bee-friendly flora to plant and which pesticides are most dangerous to bees.

“We can’t sustain the bees with this kind of loss, and we’ll have to teach people how to keep these bees correctly,” she said. “Not all (attendees) will keep bees, but they leave more educated about bees and some eventually engage in beekeeping.”

At the end of the course, Brown said there will be a question-and-answer session with a panel of bee experts and experienced beekeepers. There will be food, refreshments and door prizes at the event.

For more information, visit the club’s Facebook page.

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