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Where would we be without bees?

By Patricia R. Drackett, Director and Assistant Extension Professor of Landscape Architecture
The Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University Extension Service

 

Have you ever been curious about how to keep bees? Over the past few years, we’ve noticed the increasing “buzz” about beekeeping in Pearl River County.

Our county Extension agent Dr. Eddie Smith will be conducting a Beekeeping for Beginners program this Friday, October 19, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon. Dr. Smith will provide an introduction to how to get started with beekeeping, native plants for bees love, basic biology, equipment, protective gear, mistakes and tips, and how to grow and manage your first colony. The program is $5 for non-members. Please call to register.

Raising bees is relatively inexpensive, and enjoyed by young and old alike. Bees can increase pollination of flowers, fruit, and vegetable gardens in your neighborhood for a range up to about around three miles. Honeybees are important pollinators, carrying pollen from one flower to another to improve food production. Colonies also yield wax and royal jelly, and honey and beeswax can be used in homemade soap, lotion, and other products.

Keeping bees is becoming increasingly popular in cities, and interestingly, city beekeepers have reported honey yields greater than that of rural hives. Honey production can be particularly high in urban areas where there are large expanses of flowering “weeds” and other vegetation in vacant lots that provide abundant nectar sources for foraging bees.

The MSU Extension Service website (http://extension.msstate.edu/) is an excellent source of reliable, research-based information on bees and beekeeping. Here, you can read and download more on the subject, including information specific to Mississippi by entering “beekeeping” in the search field. Much of the information was written by Extension bee specialist Dr. Jeff Harris, with the department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology Department.

According to Dr. Harris, the number of bee colonies in Mississippi increases in the winter months due to large commercial, migratory beekeepers from northern and Midwest states who overwinter their colonies here. Another notable fact is that Mississippi has led the nation in honey yield, at an average of about a hundred pounds per hive.

A five-day beekeeping summer camp takes place each June at Mississippi State University’s Starkville campus. Keep this popular intergenerational camp in mind for next summer, and register early. MSU Extension professors Drs. Jeff Harris and John Guyton conduct the camp. Campers age 10 as well as adults may attend, and parents are encouraged to attend with their young beekeepers. The campers stay in dorms, and the camp is based at the Clay Lyle Entomology Building.

Bring your children for Story Time at the Arboretum on Saturday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Hear a story read in the beautiful natural setting of the Crosby Arboretum. (In inclement weather, the program will take place indoors.) This month feature Susie Rogers. Members’ children free, non-members’ children $2. Children must be accompanied by parent or guardian (no charge for adults). Reservations are requested, please register by October 18th.

A kids’ clay craft workshop will be held Sunday, October 26, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. There is no minimum age requirement, as children must be accompanied by an adult. Members’ children $4; non-members’ children $6 (no charge for adults). Space is limited, and reservations requested.

Celebrate the Arboretum being a dog-friendly destination offering three miles of walking trails offering a shady, dog-friendly destination at Family Pawz Day Saturday, October 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  This is a joint event with the Pearl River County SPCA. Admission is $5 for adults ($4 for senior/military), and $2 for children. The event features adoptions, a doggie fashion show, pet portraits, a bake sale, goodie bags, doggie activities, kids’ crafts, music, and personalized collars, harnesses, and bandanas.

The sixteenth annual Piney Woods Heritage Festival will be November 9 and 10Friday6:00 to 7:30 p.m., enjoy a living history presentation on the Pinecote Pavilion. Meet Fannye Cooke, Mississippi’s pioneering conservationist and scientist, portrayed by Dr. Cathy Shropshire. Celebrate the early days of the piney woods region on Saturday. Enjoy a host of exhibitors, music, and demonstrations of traditional skills and crafts such as blacksmithing, quilting, spinning, basket-making, and more. Admission, adults $5, children $2. Free entry for Arboretum members. We’re still accepting applications for cultural/historical exhibits and demonstrations. Please email Jennifer Buchanan at jb4842@msstate.edu to obtain an application form.

Call the Arboretum office at 601-799-2311 for more information or to sign up for programs. See our program calendar at www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu or visit the Arboretum’s Facebook page. Visiting hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 9 to 5, and we’re located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, at I-59 Exit 4.