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Danelle Cutting: Youth can learn to keep bees

Bee buddy

Cooperative Extension A bee, perhaps attracted by the green, hitches a ride.

Cooperative Extension A bee, perhaps attracted by the green, hitches a ride.

By Danelle Cutting

Rowan Cooperative Extension

Almost every time I open the paper, I read about the loss of our honeybees and how beekeeping is a dying art.

Our office constantly receives phone calls about swarms, how to remove bees and how to protect them. Just this year, the Rowan County Beekeepers Association (RCBA) hosted a beginner beekeeping class with over 85 participants. Since the plight of the honeybees, more and more people are trying to help remedy that.

One such group is the RCBA. They are getting ready to start training young beekeepers. How you may ask? Of course through their beekeeping classes, but their latest trial may be the best yet.

The RCBA is looking to teach young beekeeper apprentices and are seeking applicants now. This is one of, we hope, many classes that will teach youth beekeepers how to manage their own hives. The program is great for youth who are fascinated with insects, willing to try something new and interested in honeybees.

The RCBA has been discussing this apprentice program for a while. The Rowan County Farm Bureau has given them the final push to get this started. There are, however, a few requirements that apply.

The apprentice needs to be between the ages of 10 and 14, live in Rowan County, have a supportive guardian, and be willing to commit to two years of being mentored. Applications are available at the Rowan County Cooperative Extension, James River Equipment and Rowan County Farm Bureau. You can email rowanbeekeepersassociation@gmail.com for an online application, but they must be completed and turned in by July 1.

Once the youth applies, they will go through a review. If selected, they will receive all of the equipment to get started, including hive, smoker, hive tools, bees and expert mentors to help guide them along the way.

From firsthand experience, I can say that this is an excellent opportunity and worth over $500. Beekeeping is not easy but can be very rewarding. It fascinates me to work with my own bees. This is an important art form that needs to be preserved and what better way than to start with a young beekeeper?

If you would like more information on the Youth Beekeeping Apprenticeship or ways to save the honeybees, please contact your local Cooperative Extension Agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.

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