By Martha B. Jacob –
In June this year the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service released a report on the Ohio Honey Bee Colony Inventory.
The report showed an 11% drop in the number of existing honey bee colonies in Ohio, as of Jan. 1,2016 from Jan. 1, 2015.
The report was bad news for all honey bee farmers across the country and not just in Ohio according to Gary Keuffer coordinator of education for the Brown County Beekeepers Association.
“There are fewer bees now than there once was, basically because of mites and pesticides,” Keuffer explained. “Our organization has been around since the late 80’s and was started by Joel Boothby of Brown County, and I attended the very first meeting and have been involved with bees ever since. About 15 or 20 people showed up for that first meeting and we’ve been continuing to grow.
“Our Beekeepers Association is under the Ohio State Beekeepers Association and we’re a not-for-profit group. Our ultimate goal is to get more people involved in beekeeping, the younger the better.”
Keuffer said it is very important to educated the public on the necessity of honey bees.
Bees are especially important to mankind since most crops grown for their fruits (including vegetables such as squash, cucumber, tomato and eggplant), nuts, seeds, fiber (such as cotton), and hay (alfalfa grown to feed livestock) require pollination by insects.
Pollinating insects also play a critical role in maintaining natural plant communities and ensuring production of seeds in most flowering plants.
“One of the things our organization does is remove hives when people want them gone,” Keuffer added. “We recently received a call from Alma Monk from Mt. Orab about a large swarm of bees in the top of her house.
“We are always excited to do bee removals (rescues) of local bees, because we know they’re going to thrive in this area. One of the advantages of being a member of our organization is that you get put on a swarm list, and you get the bees rescued, at no cost.”
Keuffer discussed a recent removal of bees where floor boards had to be removed to get to the where the swarm was living. He also described how careful the group has to be when removing a swarm from a home.
Upon receiving the call from Mrs. Monk, Keuffer found that bees had moved into the very peak of her house.
“They were well established but according to Mrs. Monk they weren’t bothering anything,” he said. “But eventually the honey began to seep down on her patio and her dog got stung.
“This was really high up, and she had contacted a contractor to set up scaffolding which made it possible for us to reach the hive.”
Initially the bees were to be exterminated by the contractor but she was told that the Beekeepers Association could remove the swarm and save them.
“We were able to remove the bees with the use of a very gentle vacuum that collects the bees safely,” Keuffer said. “They will now go to one of our members to take care of.”
According to Keuffer, basic beekeeping does not require huge amounts of money, time or space and can be set up just about any place where flowers bloom.
“We’d like to invite anyone interested in learning more about beekeeping to attend one of these programs at local libraries, or give us a call at (937) 379-2048.”
To have a swarm of bees removed please contact Tracy McHenry at (937) 618-1332.