Jr. 4-H Beekeeper Program
While we humans choose the summer to relax and enjoy sunny days and lake vacations, it is not the case for all creatures. Summer is prime time for the honeybee, one of nature’s most diligent insects. The honeybee has only a few short months to pollinate fruits and vegetable crops, manufacture honey and raise young to carry on the work for next year. Many crops such as apples, almonds and citrus, along with over 90 other crops depend heavily on the pollination work that honeybees perform. Worker bees sometimes work 12 hours each day to collect nectar. As it takes about one million flowers to manufacture one pound of honey, you can see why they are called worker bees!
The honeybee fell on hard times in 2006, many succumbing to various ailments involving diseases, pesticides and stress. Realizing the vital role that honeybees play in feeding our planet, Burke County’s N.C. Cooperative Extension, 4-H Program partnered with the Farm Bureau in Burke County to implement a Jr. 4-H Beekeeper program.
Each year 5-6 youth are selected to participate in this new program that will insure a fresh crop of young beekeepers each year. With funding from Farm Bureau, these beginning beekeepers are partnered with experience beekeepers from the Burke County Beekeepers Association where they are mentored throughout the entire beekeeping process, from building hives to identifying the queen.
Five families are participating this year and they recently met at Winding Road Apiary here in Morganton where they loaded their new hives with fresh honeybee colonies. Under the supervision of owners, Jeff and Cheralyn Ritchie and Burke County Beekeepers they received hands-on instruction on the care and maintenance of their new hives. We expect great things from these budding beekeepers as they learn a new and exciting skill.