The Rusk County Beekeepers Association will be holding its regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m., Jan. 30 at Henderson’s Church of the Nazarene, located at 906 W Main Street. The meeting is open to all visitors, with the opportunity to become a member available at any time. 

As a collective, the RCBA recognizes the importance of the bee to the survival of much of our ecosystem, and thusly, strives to ensure its survival and sustainability. Through education, community development, and vast hours of hard work, they fight to repopulate the dwindling number of bees and to expand the number of successful beekeepers in the area. 

While many become involved with beekeeping for the meager financial gain that comes from selling the honey they create, or from selling the bees themselves, RCBA is all about self-sustainability. The association’s hope is that once a keeper has established a viable hive they should never need to buy another bee. Their initial goal is to educate a bee owner enough to make it through a year with a successful hive. At this point, more experienced members will teach an entirely new aspect of beekeeping. It’s an education that offers no end. 

Through this constant education, a sense of community develops. A community with one goal; save the humble bumble. 

Members of the association have learned to split a viable hive, treat their bees for new and aggressive parasites, create new queens and controlling the temperament of a hive. The lessons do not stop there and the information is bountiful and expanding every day. New techniques are found or created regularly, as no one keeper handles their hive in the same manner as another. 

John Stewart, President of the Rusk County Beekeepers Association wants the community to know that you don’t have to have special knowledge to become a beekeeper and there are incredible benefits that come from being involved. “It is a tremendous hobby to have,” said Stewart, “Especially for young people.”

The sense of community that develops through the regular attendance of meetings and the near-constant need to ask another keeper’s advice or opinion is fulfilling on many levels. Beekeeping neighbors become fast friends when questions arise or trouble is afoot with their bee population. Fellow bee-keepers are the best resource any beginning bee owner could have. 

Another benefit is the feeling of pride and purpose a keeper gets from the creation of a successful hive. According to members of the association, it is entirely possible for a keeper to develop a bond with their bees. Association member, Heather Borger said, “I think of them as pets,” and she reacts to their successes and losses as any pet owner would. She recounted the loss of three of her initial hives and the absolute devastation she felt when she realized they were gone. Her bees are important, as all bees are and she and her fellow club members hope to spread the word of their importance to the community. 

Bees, as pollinators, play an incredibly important role in every aspect of the planet’s ecosystem. It is estimated that one-third of all of the food consumed daily was pollinated, mainly by bees. 

The list of fruits and vegetables requiring pollination is vast and without the humble bee, every entry on the list would cease to exist. Asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash, oranges, peaches, kiwi; while only a few of the fruits and vegetables that can’t survive without the efforts of the bee, they would make an impact on many dinner tables. 

The agricultural loss wouldn’t stop at fruits or vegetables as bees also serve to pollinate most of the trees, grasses, and flowers we see daily. Their loss would have a ripple effect that humanity might not survive. The fight is on to save this oddly built little maker of deliciousness and pollinator of all and the Rusk County Beekeepers Association is prepared to arm us all with the knowledge needed to play our part. 


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