DOBSON — The North Carolina Extension Service has established an observation bee hive at its offices in Dobson with the help of the Surry Beekeepers Association.
“Our hive here is brand new this year,” explained Extension Agent Joanna Radford. The hive is located in the midst of one of the flower beds near the service’s offices in downtown Dobson. “Urban” beekeeping is a new trend in many areas with rooftop hives being successfully established for use by restaurants, for personal use and for the honey and wax.
The hive in Dobson is a vertical, Langstroth style hive that has become the standard for the industry. It was established with the help of the Surry Beekeepers Association, who continue to tutor Radford in the finer points of wrangling the insects.
“We hope that the hive will demonstrate to persons the importance of honeybees,” added Radford. “The bees have worked hard. I was concerned at first because we didn’t have a lot blooming in the flowerbeds.”
In true bee fashion, they amazed their keepers by ranging as far away as five miles for nectar. Radford reports that the industrious insects have filled two “supers” or boxes with honey in the comb and a third super has been added as the bees continue to collect nectar and pollen.
Radford, who has been an extension agent for field crops, recently switched to a horticulture agent which includes beekeeping.
“I never thought I’d be doing beekeeping,” said Radford. “I told them I support you and bees but from a distance. Now I’ve got a bee suit, and when we pulled out the honey, I got excited! It was wonderful. I’m turning into a true beekeeper in just seven months.”
Radford said that no negative comments have been received concerning the hive. She said one neighbor even called to tell them he was looking forward to more produce because the bees would be working his gardens.
“Initially we got some calls but they’re have been no catastrophes,” added Radford. “They (honeybees) are not aggressive but will sting if they have to. Everyone has been so accepting. She said part of the choice of the site for the hive included placing it out of the way of traffic.
This tends to be one of the differences between “city” bees and “country” bees. Urban beekeeping demands more work on the part of keepers on locating the hives so harmony between bees and man is preserved. Additionally urban beekeepers must put even more emphasis on keeping hives gentle, passive and non-aggressive.
Most urban keepers locate hives with an “out of sight, out of mind” motto to lessen neighbors’ fears. Other than that, the equipment is the same for keeping bees in the city or in the country.
Radford, who is a graduate of the beekeeping association’s beginning beekeeping course, recommends those interested in taking up the hobby do the same because it is an expensive and highly technical hobby. She also said aspiring keepers should check with local authorities first because some cities and counties do not allow beekeeping.
The hive is part of an ongoing project by the service where composting and a “sensory garden” of herbs also will be built at the offices to entertain and educate interested citizens.
“We are so grateful and excited about how the beekeeping association jumped in to help us. They are a very active group,” said Radford. “In two weeks we are going to extract honey and we are hoping for a couple of gallons. We don’t want to take more than that because it’s important to leave some for the bees.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.