Danelle Cutting: What’s all the buzz about?

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 15, 2016

As the days and nights get colder, questions come in about gardening and, surprisingly, bees. Here are a few of this week’s questions and how I answered them. As always, if you have any pressing questions, please call or email!

Question: Will Rowan County Beekeepers have another beginner beekeeping class?

Answer: The Rowan County Beekeepers Association typically hosts a beekeeping school every other year and since the association had one last year, 2016 falls into their break year. However, if you are ready to take a course this year, there are a few surrounding counties (Iredell, Cabarrus, Davidson etc.) that are offering the course. The classes are starting very soon. The costs are fairly reasonable, and you will definitely learn a lot. You can find all of the dates, locations, and costs on the NC Beekeepers Website: https://www.ncbeekeepers.org/education/courses-bee-schools

If you are attending the school, I would recommend joining the local chapter of the Beekeepers Association. They can provide a wealth of knowledge and help continue your knowledge of beekeeping. The Rowan County Beekeepers Association meets at our office, 2727 Old Concord Road, on the second Monday of the month at 7 p.m.

Question: Can I still find local honey? I hear that it is great for colds and allergies, but I think I need to find it locally.

Answer: There have been studies to show that if you want the best out of honey, it is best to purchase it locally. This is because the bees will collect pollen from many of the plants that are in bloom close to where you live. I have always found it fascinating that when honey is analyzed and you get the report, you can see where the pollen sources are.

I am always shocked when I see pine pollen (pine trees are not pollinated by bees) and poison ivy but hey, bees can visit flowers a few miles from the hive, and you never know when the wind will blow pollen their way. But back to the question, there are a few producers with honey available. I recommend contacting our office or the Rowan County Beekeepers Association to find the closest beekeeper to your area. Supply is not as abundant right now, but there is some stock still available.

Question: How can we get a community garden started?

Answer: This can actually be a tough question, and we have received numerous calls lately on how to get them started. To begin with, you need to have a committee or group that will be dedicated to help, meaning that they will be there to plan and weed. Second, you need to decide whether this garden will be available to the public for free or for a charge. Or, will this be something that your group does to provide produce to those less fortunate?

Once you have those two items checked off, you need to have a location with water or at least close to a water source. Then, decisions can be made: Do you want raised beds or an open field? Who is going to harvest and weed? Who will you give the produce to? How often will the group meet? How will you pay for this?

These are just a few of the questions that need to be asked. The best advice I can give is to plan, plan, plan. Whatever you do, don’t jump into the project because you will quickly learn it is not as easy as you may think. Luckily, there are lots of resources out there, and Cooperative Extension is one of them. So, please start with us before you begin digging.

If you have questions concerning beekeeping, honey, or starting your own community garden, call your local agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.