Beekeeping provides the sweet taste of honey

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 13, 2018

Senior citizens recently got a chance to learn about beekeeping at the Senior Center of South Pearl River County.

Dr. Eddie Smith, MSU Extension agent for Pearl River County, conducted the seminar, which covered beekeeping basics.

Smith said the seminar was structured to provide a basic overview of the process involved in beekeeping with an aim to offer technical assistance to solve issues that could arise.

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To begin the process, Smith said bees should be kept at places where there is a water source available. Keeping a beehive in a small residential area or subdivision makes it easier to direct the flight of the bees and keep them together.

“It is important to keep bees at a location where the entrance faces away from a busy road to avoid getting them killed,” Smith said.

The bees prefer warm weather so it’s a good idea to face the hive toward the morning sun. During the winter, the size of a hive may become smaller due to some of the bees succumbing to chilly conditions.

If the apiary is too far from a natural water source, their water needs can be met with a birdbath or similar container.

Smith said the single most important factor that helps bees thrive is to ensure the hives are near a food source.

“Ideally spring, summer and fall seasons are when the best food sources become available. Wildflowers that commonly grow in the South are one of the best sources of food,” Smith said.

Bees enjoy white and red clovers that grow during the winter or Chinese tallow commonly found across South Mississippi.

Many commercial honey producers across the nation bring their bees to South Mississippi so they can collect the tallow that causes them to make a lot more honey.

Other common food sources include fruit trees, goldenrod, maple, mustard, ragweed, vetch, willow, basswood and berry producing bushes.

Smith suggests starting beekeeping early in the year.

“If they start now, they can expect to rob honey sometime in spring. Preferably anytime in March, April or May could be the best time to start the process and later in the year would be best to rob the honey,” Smith said.

Bees have to forage for nectar to make honey. The further they have to fly for nectar leads to a lesser honey. Beehives should be preferably kept near wetlands or grasslands that can help them produce.

Pollen provides the essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals that make honey more beneficial to humans.

Once the bees are finished producing the honey, it is ready to be processed using uncapping tools, honey extractors or strainers.

Picayune resident John Gray said he was considering getting into beekeeping and that the seminar gave him insight from the experts.

Gray said he has a lot of flowering plants and wetlands near his home that would be great for beekeeping.