PRINCETON — Area beekeepers can find comradery and support in their keeping through the Mercer County Beekeepers Association.
The association, having been around since the 1980s, has established a community of beekeepers.
The association strives to preserve the honey bee population as they are vital to the pollination process.
According to Ken Cole, board member of the association, the honey bee population has been declining.
“Population has been declining since the appearance of the varroa mite, in America, in the 1980s,” Cole said.
Cole expressed that the mites can carry a variety of approximately one hundred known diseases that prove fatal to the bees.
The mites are members of the arachnid family, following in relation to ticks, according to Cole.
“One of the most known of the disease is called Deformed Wing Virus. During the larvae stage of the bees development, this virus causes the wings to shrivel up and the bee will never be able to fly,” Cole said.
The mites reportedly suck blood from the bees and the bee’s larvae according to the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment.
The association sets up at several area events throughout the year, such as fairs, to introduce the community to the importance of honey bee care.
Though the association doesn’t sell the member’s bee products, such as honey or beeswax, the members are free to do so at the events the association attends, according to Cole.
Classes on beekeeping are offered by the Mercer County Technical Education Center. These classes, which run as a four-part series, cost $50 to attend.
According to Cole, the classes are two hours long and involve a hands-on session in May.
“The first step into beekeeping would be to take classes on beekeeping,” Cole said.
The association meets at the Vietnam Veterans of America building, located on Mercer Street in Princeton, at seven p.m. on the designated meeting days.
“We meet the first Monday of every month, except July and September. In September, we meet on the second Monday,” Cole said.
The association does not hold a meeting in the month of July.
Membership in the association requires an annual fee of twelve dollars.
Those interested in the association can contact Ken Cole at 304-920-9430, or send mail to P.O. Box 5271, Princeton, WV, 24740.
— Contact Emily D. Coppola at email@example.com