By REBECCA HAZEN
Did you know that National Honey Bee Day is Saturday, Aug. 21? One way to show your support for the honey bee is by purchasing a new Georgia “Save The Honey Bee” license plate, available at the local tag office.
“This is for awareness. Bees are essential for our survival, and those beekeepers help them. The plate was designed by one of our Georgia Beekeepers Association members, Julia Mahood,” Eddie Gwaltney, President, Tri-State Beekeepers Association, said.
Not only for awareness, the license plate is also a means of raising money. The Georgia Beekeepers Association receives $22 from every plate sold.
“We had to put up $25,000 for the initial setup and the design, but we have made that back. Those funds translate to educational programs and equipment. Our local beekeeper group is looking at an onsite bee program, and working with A Hand Up Ministry,” Gwaltney said.
Fundraised money is also used for Buzz Fund Grants. Anyone can apply for a grant for workshops, continuing education, equipment, observation hives, etc.
Another way that people can help is by participating in a new program, the Great Georgia Pollinator Census that will be held on Aug. 20-21. This is a citizen science project where people count insects that land on a pollinator plant for 15 minutes, and putting these insects into categories: carpenter bees, bumble bees, honey bees, small bees, wasps, flies, butterflies/moths, and other insects. For more information, visit ggapc.org.
Honey bees pollinate the vast majority of what we eat. If people want to help save the honey bee at home, there are endless possibilities of things to plant.
“Any flowering tree, anything that blooms is going to serve the bees,” Gwaltney said.
Gwaltney noted that it is important to not use pesticides, because they will harm the bees.
“Colony collapse is a major issue with every beekeeper. Primarily it has to do with pesticides. And it’s rarely the bee keeper that uses the pesticides. Bees just make the difference between whether we have food or not, and that is not an exaggeration,” Gwaltney said.
The Tri-State Beekeepers Association is affiliated and chartered under the Georgia Beekeepers Association. Derick Forester, a third generation beekeeper and owner of Forester Farms and Apiary in Rising Fawn, founded the group.
Meetings were halted due to the pandemic, but started back up again in April.
“We have lots of new members, particularly people who are coming with their kids, and in some cases it was the kid that suggested they get into beekeeping. That is really encouraging to see, a new generation of interested beekeepers,” Gwaltney said.
According to Gwaltney, the Tri-State Beekeepers Association provides a gathering venue where people can swap stories, and their successes and failures.
“Two months ago the meeting was about swarm traps. Last meeting we talked about apitherapy and infusions in honey. This month we are meeting on site on Forester Farms and Apiary, which is always great because you get right into the hives,” Gwaltney said.
The group is for anyone with an interest in beekeeping. No experience is necessary. For more information, email email@example.com.
“I’ve been beekeeping for nine years. I would have loved to had an organization like this when I started. There is so much information and support. It’s a real vibrant, grassroots connection,” Gwaltney said.