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Bees are essential to life; learn more at the library

On a mild day in early February, I sit on my porch and enjoy the warm sun, a special treat after a long cold spell. I notice a lone honeybee gently buzzing in the violas, which have bloomed steadily through the cold and snow.

It is a welcome reminder that spring is on the way. I’m always happy to see bees because I know how essential they are to pollination, and eventually, a good harvest from the garden.

To learn more about bees and the important role they have played not only in the garden, but in art, religion, literature and medicine, read “Honey Bees: Letters from the Hive,” by Stephen Buchmann. This children’s book discusses bee biology and behavior and examines our relationship with bees from prehistoric times to the present.

Humans have cultivated bees since ancient times. In Lower Egypt, bees and honey were so important to the economy that the honeybee hieroglyph was chosen as the symbol for the entire region. Early Egyptians also appreciated honey’s healing properties, and honey prescriptions appear on clay tablets and papyrus dating as far back as 1550 BC. Beeswax was used in a number of ways, including mummification, shipbuilding, and as a gel to slick down elaborate wigs.

Buchmann also provides information about how bees produce honey and how we collect and use it today. He provides descriptions of many varieties, from the pale white clover honey to the more exotic and rare Tasmanian Leatherwood honey, as well as tips for using honey in cooking and a few simple recipes. More importantly, he explains the critical role that bees play in sustaining our food supply and in the ecosystem.

Concerns over the decline of honeybee populations have caused an increased interest in beekeeping as a hobby, even in urban areas. If you are interested in learning more about beekeeping, Rowan Public Library has a number of books for the aspiring apiarist.

“Storey’s Guide to Keeping Honey Bees,” by Malcolm T. Stanford and Richard E. Bonney presents a thorough overview of bees and their care. This guide will help you understand how to plan a hive, acquire bees, install a colony, keep bees healthy, maintain a healthy hive, understand and prevent new diseases, and harvest honey crops.

Concerns about the overuse of chemicals in maintaining hives has led some to take a more natural approach to beekeeping. “Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture” by Ross Conrad offers holistic alternatives to conventional chemical practices.

In addition, “Top-bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health” by Les Crowder, describes the use of top-bar hives, in which the shape of the interior resembles a hollow log. These hives allow bees to build comb naturally, rather than simply filling prefabricated foundation frames in a typical box hive.

If you would like to learn more about the rewarding endeavor of beekeeping and its importance to our ecosystem, visit Rowan Public Library for these and other books.

Computer basics class: Thursday, Feb. 25, 9:30-11 a.m. at headquarters., 201 W. Fisher St. If you’re new to computers or have never felt comfortable with them, this is the class for you. We’ll go over the very basics of computers, from computer components to how programs are opened and closed. Class on second floor of library.

iPad basics: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 7-8 p.m., headquarters. Become a confident iPad user in this free class. Discuss components, navigation and the use of apps. Requirements: Pre-registration; bring your own iPad; iPad needs to be charged and have an updated iOS (operating system); bring a current, valid Apple ID.  Free sign-up at:  https://appleid.apple.com/. Space is limited, so call Paul Birkhead at 704-216-8242 to reserve your spot. Class on second floor of library.

Castlebay in concert: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 7-9 p.m., headquarters. Castlebay, a duo from Maine, has been weaving together the heritage of New England and the Celtic lands in song since 1987. Admission is free thanks to sponsorship by Friends of Rowan Public Library and Cheerwine. Program starts at 7 p.m.; doors open at 6:30. Sample Castlebay’s music at www.castlebay.net.

Celebrate Seuss: Saturday, Feb. 27, 10:30 a.m.-noon, East branch, Rockwell. Children of all ages are invited to celebrate Dr. Seuss and his very own “Day of all Days.” For if he’d never been born, well then what would we do? No Horton? No Lorax? No Thing One or Thing Two? That really just isn’t a world we can envision so come join us this day for a great celebration. Light refreshments included.

Book Bites Book Club: South (China Grove), Tuesday, Feb. 23, 6-7 p.m. Free, open to the public. We discuss a different book each month and serve refreshments loosely related to the theme. “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cakeby Aimee Bender. Need a copy? Call 704-216-7841.

Learn.Act.Grow.: Personal safety. Monday, Feb. 22, 5:30-7 p.m., headquarters. Free. What would you do if someone approached you in a dark parking lot when you were alone? Learn tips and techniques from local experts on vehicle, home and personal safety. Led by Sidekick Karate and Salisbury Police Department. Register online or by calling 704-216-7734 to ensure a spot.

Genealogy Class: Saturday, Feb. 27, 10 a.m.-noon, headquarters. Co-hosted by the Genealogical Society of Rowan County and the History Room, this series of classes will explore the genealogical resources and techniques available in the library and online. This session will be in the computer lab and will cover some more popular databases that are available for free through the library or otherwise including Ancestry, Fold3, Family Search and some software programs to help organize and store genealogical materials.

Displays: Headquarters, log cabins from North Hills Christian School; South, South Rowan High SchoolCorriher-Lipe Middle School student art; East, Barbies.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second  language.

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