Buzz Over Beekeeping is Growing
Thursday, May 5th, 2011
Publicity over the past few years on the decline of the honeybee has stoked greater interest in beekeeping among the general public. According to Professor of Entomology and director of the Honeybee Program at the University of Georgia Dr. Keith Delaplane, equipment suppliers confirm a big surge in beekeeping and many are unable to meet demand.
“It’s typically individuals or families who are looking to place one or two hives in their backyards,” Delaplane explained.
Why should Georgia farmers care about hobbyist beekeepers? According to Delaplane, the flight range of one honeybee colony is measured in square miles, not just acres, which means hives in a suburban backyard can pollinate crops and gardens over a large area.
Benefiting fruit, berry and forage crops
Many staples such as corn, rice and wheat are wind-pollinated and do not require honeybees. However, when one considers berries, fruits and forages that fuel meat and dairy production, one has entered the realm of bee pollination.
“What’s at stake here is quality of diet. It’s the quality of diet that sets the U.S. apart from less developed countries. Unless you want to limit your diet to corn and rice, we need honeybees,” Delaplane said.
Beekeeping Institute offers world-class education opportunities
On May 12 – 14, the UGA Honeybee Program in collaboration with Young Harris College will hold the 20th annual Young Harris College / UGA Beekeeping Institute on the Young Harris campus in north Georgia. Already fully subscribed, the Institute will offer its 150 attendees the opportunity to learn from leading authorities in honeybees.
“The Institute is designed to offer an intimate, high quality opportunity for beginners and experts to interact with heavy-hitters from around the world. There’s really nothing else like it in the region,” Delaplane continued.
This year, Dr. Yves Le Conte, director of honeybee research at the INRA-Université d'Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse Joint Research Unit for Bees and the Environment in Avignon, France will present the latest findings on viruses and parasites behind the decline of honeybees. Additionally, Dr. Debbie Delaney, Assistant Professor in the Department of
Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware will address attendees.
The Beekeeping Institute sponsors the Georgia Master Beekeeper Program, offering training and certification at the ranks of Certified, Journeyman, Master, or Master Craftsman. The four qualifications correspond to increasing levels of expertise. Master Craftsman is similar to achieving a graduate degree and requires passing an oral examination and conducting relevant research.
“Master Beekeeper is a valuable credential that gives instant credibility in the field,” Delaplane said.
The Institute also partners with the Welsh (U.K.) National Bee Keepers Association to provide North America’s first licensing program for honey judges. A Honey Show is a popular part of the Institute program and includes entries in thirteen categories including extracted light honey, amber and dark, chunk honey, creamed honey as well bee-related photography, art and beekeeping gadgets.
More information on the UGA Beekeeping Program and the Young Harris Beekeeping Institute is available at www.ent.uga.edu/bees.