2018 Wayne County Bee School

— Written By

Honey bees are beneficial insects which are very important to our environment. Honey bees often get a bad name by people associating stings with them along with the misconception that they are thought to be aggressive. People that are unfamiliar with honeybees usually group them with other types of bees like bumblebees, yellow jackets, and wasps. Honey bees are different from other types of bees in that they can produce larger amounts of honey and are social insects that function together as a colony. Within a colony, each honey bee has a job or makes a contribution to that colony.

The main reason that honey bees are so important in our environment is in their role as pollinators. As honey bees travel from flower to flower, they are spreading pollen that will fertilize flowers and result in fruits and seeds. Some plants fully depend on the honeybee to spread pollen that would otherwise not be well dispersed resulting in poor pollination and poor fruit set. If we did not have the honey bee, some of our major foods would be loss. These foods would include watermelon, cucumber, almonds, blueberries, apples, squash, grapes, pumpkins, strawberries, and peaches. According to NC State University’s Department of Entomology, from 2002 to 2006 honey bees directly accounted for approximately $96 million in North Carolina’s annual fruit and vegetable production (NC State Beekeeping Note 3.14).

Honey bees are often feared because it is thought that they are aggressive. However, honey bees are not as aggressive as one might think. They are going to be aggressive only to protect themselves and their hives. Often one sees a beekeeper wearing a suit for protection which is used when conducting work in the hive. However, several beekeepers will not even wear a suit when they are simply inspecting or monitoring hives. Only when the honey bee feels threaten, do they actually come across as aggressive and thus a sting may occur.

Honey bees are one of the most studied insects and it can be quite fascinating to learn how these small insects work together in a colony to function and survive. There are many interesting facts about honey bees including that they have a special bee dance that provides others with directions from the hive to sources of pollen and nectar.

If honey bees and beekeeping is something that sparks your curiosity, you can take advantage of Bee School that is coming up in January. The school is taught the local bee club, Beekeepers of the Neuse. The 2018 Bee School will be held on Saturdays, January 13th, 20th, 27th and February 3rd and 10th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wayne County Cooperative Extension Office (208 W. Chestnut Street, Goldsboro). The registration cost is $60 per individual or $85 per couple. The registration cost includes class sessions, textbook, handouts and notebook. Take advantage of the early bird discount and save $10 by registering and paying on or before December 15th. There are two easy ways to register and pay: 1) mail registration form and check to Beekeepers of the Neuse, PO Box 977, Goldsboro 27533-0977 or 2) on-site registration begins at 8 a.m. on January 13th at the Wayne County Cooperative Extension Office (credit cards will be accepted on registration day). Please make checks payable to Beekeepers of the Neuse. Registration forms are available at Wayne County Extension Office or by visiting their website at www.beekeepersoftheneuse.com.

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Jessica Strickland is an Agriculture Extension Agent, specializing in horticulture for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wayne County. Horticulture program information can be found at http://wayne.ces.ncsu.edu/. Forward any questions you would like answered from this week’s column to Jessica.Strickland@waynegov.com.