Bees and gardens go together like fish and the ocean — you can’t have one without the other.
[blockquote quote="But you have to remember, worker bees only live about five weeks, so the population is constantly being replenished." source="David White, founder of the Mid-Columbia Beekeepers Association" align="right" max_width="300px"]
That is why a nursery owner, a Master Gardener and members of the Mid-Columbia Beekeepers Association are offering a variety of classes in the next few months through Kennewick Community Education.
The beekeeping experts will cover the basics of bees and hives along with harvesting and cooking with honey. While the garden classes span such topics as berries and herbs and low maintenance and organic gardening.
David White of Kennewick, one of the founders of the Mid-Columbia Beekeepers Association, will offer a class on basic beekeeping principles Feb. 20.
“It’s to help people decide if they want to take on bee colonies or not,” he said. “They’re not hard, but they do require some basic care, though not as much as a dog or cat.”
White’s been keeping bees for four decades. He was just 21 years old when he saw a film called ‘City of the Bees,’ which inspired him become a commercial beekeeper.
“I decided bees were my destiny,” he said.
It was almost a decade later before White found a mentor willing to share his apiary — beekeeping — experience.
At that point, White was living in his hometown of Pittsburg, Penn.
“I called all the ads I saw in the American Bee Journal asking if they needed any help. One place in California said yes, so I hopped on a Greyhound bus and traveled some 2,000 miles only to find that they really wanted a truck driver to haul the hives from place to place. I really didn’t learn anything about the bees,” he said.
White returned home and after spending a year or two at apiaries in Georgia and Arizona, found a beekeeper in Pennsylvania willing to mentor him.
“He was wanting to retire and hoping I’d buy him out. That didn’t happen, but I worked with him for several years,” White said.
The Pennsylvania beekeeper had 800 to 1,000 hives and used the bees for pollination and honey.
“We did all the work by hand, extracting the honey and bottling it, moving the hives,” White said. “That’s where I learned how to work with bees without any protective gear. Pennsylvania in the summer if really hot and humid, those outfits were just way too hot.”
Also, in his experience, people who don’t know about bees, seeing a beekeeper dressed in protective gear, get more apprehensive about knowing there are beehives in the neighborhood.
“They’re not aggressive, all they want to do is go out and do their work, gathering pollen for the hive and incidentally pollinating plants for us,” he said.
Although an occasional sting is part of beekeeping, he added.
White is one of the founders of Mid-Columbia Beekeepers Association, which has about 200 members.
The group meets at 6:30 p.m. every second Tuesday of the month. The group is searching for a location to meet regularly each month, but you can check its Facebook page for meeting updates. The group’s website is www.tricitybees.org.
White said getting started in beekeeping costs $300 to $500 and most people will have at least two hives. In the summer when the bees are hard at work, each hive can shelter as many as 40,000 to 60,000 bees.
“But you have to remember, worker bees only live about five weeks, so the population is constantly being replenished,” White said.
White and Todd Gervais, both of the Mid-Columbia Beekeepers Association, will be giving a series of classes in February and March through Kennewick Community Education.
David White will cover the basics of beekeeping, giving students enough information they can decide if it’s the right hobby for them. The class runs from 9 a.m. to noon at the Kennewick High School Library. The cost is $23.
Kay will talk about choosing and growing herbs and using them in salads and sauces. The class will be 7 to 8 p.m. at Ridge View Elementary Library. The cost is $12.
Todd Gervais, a member of the Mid-Columbia Beekeepers Association, will talk about growing pesticide-free produce that is resistant to insects, fungus and viruses, as well as non-pesticide methods of pest control. The class will be 1 to 2 p.m. at the Kennewick High School library. The cost is $12.
Gervais will discuss how to make gardening less labor intensive and how to put the garden on cruise control when you leave town. The class will be 2 to 3 p.m. at the Kennewick High School library. The cost is $12.
Pre-registration for all classes is required. Register online via credit card at kennewick.coursestorm.com. You may also pay with cash or by check at the Kennewick School District Administration Center, 1000 W. Fourth Ave., Kennewick. The Administration Center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.
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