by Mary Hollingsworth, Horticulture Extension Agent
As a child did you ever go into a produce section of a grocery store and wonder where all of the fruits and vegetables came from? Did you ever imagine that these delicious foods once started out as a flower? Or even thought about the influence a small honeybee had on producing that fruit? For many of us one or two of these questions have come to mind at some point in time in our childhood. However, we never truly understood just how important the honeybee was in the production of those delicious foods.
Without the help of bees, the flowers from many of our fruit and vegetable plants would bloom and then wither and drop without ever having a chance to become an edible fruit or vegetable. The honeybee, discovered in North Carolina in 1670 has been extremely valuable to our agriculture industry. In fact the honeybee was so valuable to our state that in 1916 the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service reached an agreement to employ a beekeeping specialist for our state. The honeybee directly contributes over $1 million to the economy of the state with the production of honey and helps pollinate over $150 million in crops annually. For many, managing beehives have proven to be rewarding both financially and socially. Because honeybees are so influential in nature it is important that we teach others how to manage beehives and be an advocate for our natural pollinators. As Extension embarks upon its 100th year of service we continue to provide educational materials to our communities through specialist, extension agents, and county and state beekeepers associations. To aid in the effort of teaching others how to become beekeepers the Hoke County Beekeepers Association will be hosting their annual Beginning Beekeeping Course beginning on February 4 and continuing through April 8, 2014. The classes will meet on Tuesdays from 7-9 p.m. at the Hoke County Cooperative Extension Center, 116 West Prospect Avenue, Raeford, NC 28376. The cost for the course is $60.00, which covers all class materials, books, notebooks and first year membership in Hoke County Beekeepers Association and the North Carolina Beekeepers Association. To register for the course contact the Hoke County Cooperative Extension Center at 910-875-3461. For specific information on beekeeping please contact me, Mary Hollingsworth, Extension horticulture agent, at the Hoke County Cooperative Extension Center located at 116 West Prospect Avenue, Raeford, N.C. 28376 or telephone 910-875-3461. For more information about Extension visit our website at https://hoke.ces.ncsu.edu.