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The Blount County Beekeepers Association will hold its May meeting at the Maryville Church of Christ on Sherwood Drive, across the bypass from Foothills Mall.
The association will return to the Blount County Library for its June meeting, but the Maryville Church of Christ will be the permanent meeting place with the July meeting.
The May meeting will be on Monday, May 9, at 6:30 p.m.
The featured speaker will be Clarence Collison, a well-known beekeeper and an Emeritus Professor of Entomology and Emeritus Head of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University, having retired from the position in 2010. Prior to assuming this position at Mississippi State University in March 1989, he was an extension entomologist at The Pennsylvania State University where he served as a beekeeping/pollination specialist and livestock entomologist. He is a contributor to Bee Culture magazine.
Collison will speak on examining combs and what they tell the beekeeper and the importance of genetic diversity.
The change of location for the association meeting was brought about by the rapid growth of the organization. We have nearly 150 members and have had more than 100 people attending meetings this year.
The room at Maryville Church Christ is the same as the one used for the short course for new beekeepers in February. We had more than 200 people at that meeting with plenty of room for vendor stands and tables.
All Blount County beekeepers can extract honey from their hives, Mike Studer, state apiarist, said on Saturday morning.
But beekeepers should continue to monitor their hives to see if they notice any significant bee kills that might occur over the next couple of weeks.
Studer asked on Friday that honey extraction be suspended from many Blount County hives, particularly those close to the train derailment site that cause the evacuation of more than 5,000 people from their homes on Thursday.
The train car that derailed was carrying a dangerous chemical, which caught fire and took more than16 hours to burn itself out. A number of Blount beekeepers maintain hives that are well within the radius the evacuation zone.
State and federal environment officials were on the scene Thursday to test the air and water to see if any parts of the environment had been polluted, and they are continuing to gather samples.
Studer said he had been in touch with these officials, and to date they have found no levels of pollution outside normal levels.
If you see a significant bee kill in front of your hives over the next couple of weeks, you should contact Mike Studer at 615-517-4451 or Harlen Breeden, president of the Blount County Beekeepers Association, at 865-719-1828.
The annual auction will be the main event for the October meeting of the Blount County Beekeepers Association.
The meeting, which will be on Monday, October 13, at 6:30 p.m. in the Blount County Library.
The money from the auction goes to support the grants the BCBA gives to those who want to begin beekeeping or who have good ideas for promoting beekeeping in this area of East Tennessee.
In years past members have been generous in donating items for the auction, and we are looking forward to the same for this year. Items do not necessarily have to be bee-related, but they should be new or in very good shape. We are also likely to have items donated from a number of bee suppliers.
So, bring what you have, and then get ready to bid on what you want. It’s always a fun time for everyone.
If you have questions about what your bees are doing this time of year, the next BCBA meeting would be a great place to get some answers.
As always, our meetings are free and open to the public. Invite a friend to come along with you. Even if the friend isn’t interested in becoming a beekeeper, we always have lively, friendly discussions about what we should be doing with our bees.
Veteran beekeeper Howard Kerr told the Blount County Beekeepers Association that bees are extraordinary animals and worth a lot of study.
Howard has devoted nearly 50 years to doing just that. Here are a few of the points he made:
- While worker bees have barbed stingers, the queen has a smooth stinger. That’s what she uses to fight other queens. Because it’s smooth, she doesn’t lose it when she uses it. Worker bees lose their stingers when they used them and thus can live for only a short time after that.
- When you buy a three-pound package of bees, you’re getting about 10,000 bees. There are about 3,300 bees to a pound.
- The only purpose of a drone is to mate with a queen (not necessarily of the same hive). The mating is done in the air, and once the mating is finished, the drone dies.
- You are what you eat; so are the bees. An egg gets hormone-rich royal jelly for about three days, but then the nurse bees most of the time stop feeding that. If a bee continues to get royal jelly, she could develop into a queen.
- Bees use landmarks to find their way around, especially when they are returning to the hive.
- Bees have something called “flower fidelity,” which is what makes them such good pollinators. They will work the same type of flower over and over. Consequently, they are more likely to carry the pollen from one flower to another. Other insects work a variety of flowers at the same time, and they are less likely to be good pollinators.
- Bees are not smart (“People don’t like it when I say that,” Howard said), but they are “highly programmed.”
The Blount County Beekeepers Association had an active and eventful year.
Below are a few scenes from some of the things we did.
Happy New Year, everyone!