Highland Beekeepers Group to Hold Field Day

Even though it seems warm temperatures are not quite here to stay in Highland County, there’s a buzz of activity in the air, as honeybees begin their annual labor.

Interest in bee-keeping is on the rise in the area. Monterey resident Nicole Balenger has been keeping bees for ten years, and leads an informal group of like minded folks to share knowledge of the process. She explained about an upcoming event for the group.

“We have an informal group, the Highland Beekeepers group. We get together, and we meet, we discuss how our bees are doing, and how our season is going, and sometimes share resources.

“We have a field day coming up on May 2nd. It was postponed due to potential snow, but we’re going to get together, open up some colonies, look at brood and talk about what we’re seeing – look at the strength of the colonies, evaluate the colonies, and afterwards, we have a potluck supper on the porch.

“Some are active Beekeepers, some are simply interested in beekeeping, so we’ll have extra veils available for folks who are interested in looking in, and thinking about keeping bees, but not actually keeping bees yet.”

Ms. Balenger talked about bee activity she has seen so far this year.

“Well, the bees became pretty active about the third week in March. We started having a pollen flow, the skunk cabbage is probably the earliest  thing that came out, but right now maples and service berry, dandelions, there’s a lot going on, so they’re out collecting pollen, collecting nectar, collecting some water, and raising a lot of bees, getting ready for the main flow that will happen in a couple weeks, where they’ll produce their nectar.”

Much has been discussed about the health of honeybees, and Ms. Balenger talked about the state of local colonies.

“Well, all bees have to deal with a certain amount of difficulty with this varroa mite that came in – all the bees in the United States have to deal with that for about the last forty years. But in terms of health and having a good environment in which to forage, for pollen and nectar, Highland County is a terrific place for bees. We have great diversity, and a very long season for the bees to work, and be happy.”

Bee-keeping is a family affair for Nicole and her children.

“My son, who is five, went into the bees with me for the first time this year. Put a veil on, and some mittens, and came into the bees with me. And we were just sitting down beside some colonies, and listening first, and I think I was busy explaining something, while he was observing, and he noticed the sound of the first drone that was out flying. The bees don’t produce drones all season, when they start thinking of swarming, and they’re in that reproductive time of the season, and he noticed the different hum of the wings and saw that bee flying in. “

For more information on the group and the field day event, contact Nicole at 540-474-2649.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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