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Buzz with the Bee Association

It’s the buzz of the town.

The Troup County Beekeeper’s Association will host a beginner’s beekeepers class on Feb. 1, at 8:30 a.m.

The TCBA is a local organization that provides connections, services and information for the local beekeepers of Troup County.

“Last year was our first class ever,” said senior beekeeper Brad Myers. “This will now be our second one. We actually didn’t have many beekeepers, so for a number of years we never put on a class.”

Throughout the year, the association meets on a monthly basis, hosts workshops, honey shows and participates in competitions.

“We used to do a hive-painting contest too,” Myers said. “We basically try to teach. We do a lot of teaching. In our class, we will have educators come in … support those [interested in becoming a beekeeper], walk with them and show them our policies.”

The hive of members meet at the University of Georgia Ext. Office in LaGrange, which is also home to a community beehive that all members participate in upkeeping.

Myers said the City of Hogansville is considering becoming a bee sanctuary city, which means they would use less pesticides, planting more flowers and be more natural.

“We have a lot of beekeepers that start out, and then feel like they have enough knowledge that they don’t come back,” Myers said. “But then I talk to them later down the road, and they are down to one or no hives because they are not keeping up with the latest stuff.”

Myers said their main goal is to educate beekeepers as much as possible.

“If they are having problems, we try to get them help,” Myers said. “We teach UGA recommended guidelines.”

Myers said that honeybees are one of the most important creatures to having a sustainable diet.

“For example, there’s a great picture of Whole Foods Market online that shows our fruits and vegetables without bees and with bees,” Myers said. “The store is practically empty when you have no bees. They pollinate probably 70 to 80 percent of our crops. Right now, at this time, a lot of commercial beekeepers are transporting their bees to California, and they get paid almost $1,000 per hive to pollinate the almonds.”

Myers has been raising honeybees for approximately seven years, after not being able to find any local honey sold at the farmer’s market in LaGrange.

“TCBA has been around for about 12 to 15 years,” Myers said. “We are part of Georgia Beekeepers, but we’re the local chapter. We attend state meetings and disseminate a lot of their information.”

Myers said that this organization is extremely important because there is false information on the internet that beekeepers starting out will use, and it will cause them to be unsuccessful with their hives.

“None of it, UGA, university approved or studied,” Myers said.

“Who knows what they’re doing, and whether they’re doing it right or not. Whereas we teach more of an approved method following the book and following what the approved UGA guidelines.”

The TCBA offers mentorship programs that beekeepers can go to 30 minutes before the monthly meetings to get hands-on training.

“We help people find bees, manufactures we recommend and more,” Myers said.

The art of beekeeping not only takes hordes of knowledge and training, but also patience.

“You don’t harvest your first year,” Myers said. “You let them have everything, that way they have a better chance of survival. Because the first year they’re a brand-new hive.”

During the first year, the bees don’t build up enough honey to harvest it. The bees aren’t strong enough to make an excess amount of honey that would be enough to harvest and also keep them alive through the winter time.

“The second year you harvest it, usually we harvest in the summertime,” Myers said.

“There’s a nectar flow, usually the end of spring, and it goes for about two months in Georgia, maybe two and a half and that’s it.”

Myers said he was blessed enough to not lose any hives when he first started out. He recommended that anyone starting out avoids getting discouraged if they lose a hive. 

For more information about TCBA or how to join the organization, visit troupcountybees.com or call (404) 368-5998.