Classes at Ag Center sweet as honey

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, June 28, 2023

A group of a dozen local children gathered Tuesday and Wednesday morning at the Rowan County Agricultural Center to learn about harvesting honey from a bee hive on the site, complete with tasting.

On Tuesday a group of 5-8 year-olds gathered and on Wednesday, the children could be from 9-18 years of age. They all donned proper bee suits to protect them from any possible stings, and joined Richard Lampe of Running Fox Aviary for the adventure.

“These kids looked so cute in those suits,” said Carole Massey, a volunteer at the center. The classes were part of the 4H Summer Fun Camps organized by Laura Allen, extension agent for the 4H Youth Development program. “It has been such fun to watch their excitement.”

Olivia, one of the second-day participants, said with the suit on, she wasn’t afraid of the bees.

“But they flew right at my face, and I think might have stung me without the suit,” she said. But she liked seeing how he hive worked, and how the bees seem to move together. “That honey is really good. You can taste some if you want,” she offered.

The children had to wash their hands, which had gotten sticky from handling the honey comb, before getting to sample the honey that poured out of the extractor once Lampe put the combs inside.

Last year, a swarm of honey bees arrived at the center, and initially Lampe gathered the swarm and took them to his residence, where he already had hives. But when one of the bees came back to the center, the rest of the colony followed. He collected the old bees but brought a hive for the new colony and let them stay at the center, “since this is clearly where they wanted to be,” he laughed.

Honey must be labeled with its location, and the end result of the camps was putting honey in individual bottles, labeling them and then each participant got to take a bottle home.