New beekeepers should get help

Published 8:10 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2012

To the editor:

Based on my understanding and a conversation with the State Apiarist Keith Tignor, I feel that it is necessary to clarify the subject of grant distributions for beekeepers, which was raised by a recent article, “Beekeepers buzzing about new program,” published on April 12.

The distribution of this grant is subject to close scrutiny by the state or state’s representatives and is not intended for the purpose of replacing hives lost by unsuccessful beekeepers. As I understand the law that created the grant, its primary objective is to inspire new beekeepers to get started with hives by providing a small amount of financial aid.

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The $175,000 grant for beginner beekeeper is only a small portion of the necessary investment, compared to the sweat equity involved in becoming a successful beekeeper. I strongly encourage those interested in the program and in becoming a beekeeper to join a nearby beekeepers’ organization.

Many people are unaware of the fact that there are four beekeeping organizations here in the Hampton Roads area. People interested in finding a local club can check the Internet.

The Nansemond Beekeepers Association serves Isle of Wight, Suffolk and Surry. We meet in Chuckatuck on the second Tuesday of every month at Oakland Christian Church at 6:30 p.m.

Word has it that Florida’s Department of Agriculture predicts our supermarkets will have nothing but imported produce by the year 2020. I think that may be based on the projected decline of the migratory pollinators greatly affected by the colony collapse disorder, which will severely affect the availability and price of future produce.

It is not at all inconceivable that future crops may be totally dependent on the ill-prepared local beekeepers and their small operations for any pollination.

For those interested in this grant, which is not available until January 2013, I strongly encourage club involvement, because you have much to learn and little time to do it. I suggest you find a club and attend the training classes held annually in our area. Many sharp individuals have been discouraged and ultimately failed by strictly relying on books.

Bob Schwartz
Nansemond Beekeepers Association