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Catch the buzz

For anyone who has ever wanted to join the busy, buzzy world of beekeeping, this might be the perfect time.

That is because the county Extension Service office, in conjunction with the Surry County Beekeepers Association, will be starting two classes beginning later this month aimed at giving participants the knowledge they need to get started. One of the classes is aimed at adults, and other is a free course for youth age 5 to 16.

The reasons beekeepers start in the hobby can be many, said Extension Agent Joanna Radford.

“Some of it could be they are motivated because of the honey the bees produce, and it’s local honey. Some say eating local honey helps with allergies…It could be folks are just wanting to help pollinate. One in three bites of food are a result of pollinators,” she said. “A lot of them just want to get into beekeeping for that reason.”

Radford said there are about 50 members of the Surry County Beekeepers Association, although the actual number of beekeepers in the county is probably considerably higher. Still, she said, there is room for more.

“We need more beekeepers,” she said of the motivation behind the upcoming classes. “There’s people who are always asking about how do they get into beekeeping, and beginning beekeepers need resources.”

Thus, the upcoming courses, although this is far from the first time the two agencies have held the course.

“We do this annually. We’ve been doing this at least since 2012. This may be 10 years or more we’ve been doing it.”

For the adult class, Radford said teachers will go over the basics of beekeeping, review best practices needed to keep hives healthy all year, even in the cold winter months, as well as the equipment needed.

“There’s a lot of management of a bee hive, you can’t just establish them and leave them.”

For the youth class students will have the chance to learn the anatomy of bees, dress in a protective bee suit, light a smoker, open up a hive to see inside, and identify worker bees, drones, and queens.

One word of warning — she said beekeeping can become infectious.

“Most folks, with a back yard set-up, may start with 1 or 2 hives, but as the seasons go on they usually multiply, they usually end up with more than they ever anticipated. Especially if it’s been managed well.”

One worry many have is the idea of being stung, but Radford said that’s probably an overblown concern.

“Bees are very docile, they don’t sting often,” she said. While she said beekeepers do get stung, “that’s probably because they’ve stepped on one, or gotten their fingers too close to one.”

Cautionary practices can help beekeepers avoid too many stings along the way.

Both of the classes will run on the same day and same time at the Surry County Center at 915 E. Atkins St. in Dobson, which can accommodate families that have adults and youth interested in beekeeping.

The course is every Monday, from Feb. 7 to March 14, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The junior beekeeping program is free, and all who complete the class will be certified as a Junior Beekeeper by the local beekeeping association. Those wishing to register should call 336-401-8025.

The adult beekeeping school is $50 for an individual, $75 for a couple, along with an extra $25 charge for those who wish to buy “The Beekeeper’s Handbook, 5th Edition” by Diana Sammataro. For the adult class, at the end of the course there will be a drawing for a complete 10-frame set-up.

To register for the adult beekeeping school, either go to the Extension Service office in person or visit

Payments must be cash or check.

Registration deadline for both courses is Jan. 31.



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