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All the Buzz

Bee keepers to gain knowledge
at workshop at Clifty Falls State Park

State apiary specialist Prough
to speak; public welcome

By Tess Worrell
Contributing Writer

(August 2012) – Bees pollinate more than 100 agricultural crops plus 16 percent of all flowering plant species, making them essential, not only to farmers and gardeners, but to all who enjoy eating and the beauty of flowers. Naturalists know many cringe in fear on sighting a bee. They hope education on the benefits of bees will change the “Eeek!” to a “Wow!”

Bee Keeper

Metro Services Photo

Bee keeping has become a
popular hobby in southern Indiana.
Many resources are available
to help get started.

On Saturday, Aug. 25, from 1-3 p.m., Clifty Falls State Park in Madison, Ind., will team with state apiarist Kathleen Prough, Geez Beez Apiary, the Southeastern Indiana Beekeepers Association, the Indiana Beekeepers Association, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to put on a workshop focusing on the work of bees, the details of bee keeping and bee gardening, and the benefits of bees to everyone. The workshop takes place at the Nature Center and is free with paid admission to the park.
A Michigan native, Prough is a graduate of Western Michigan University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a certificate in secondary education. She worked seasonally as an apiary inspector for the Michigan Department of Agriculture from 1988 to 1992. She has served as Chief Apiary Inspector for the state of Indiana since 1994. She is available to inspect hives to diagnose possible diseases or parasite infestations. She also works with other states to conduct nationwide research on the health of honeybee colonies and the presence or absence of particular problems in hives. Prough also travels the state to speak on bee keeping and honeybee-safe gardening practices.
Ginger Davis, local bee keeper and point person for the workshop, hopes to draw locals to learn more about bees through a variety of hands-on stations. One station explores the various aspects of bee life and bee keeping. Participants learn about the differing roles of the queen, drone and worker bees and how these roles are determined. Participants will see bees at work in a carefully screened observation hive.

Kathleen Prough

DNR photo

Apiary specialist
Kathleen Prough will
speak at the August workshop in Madison.

Davis notes that even those who have no interest in bee keeping find bees fascinating on learning more about them.
“Though my husband isn’t really into bees, I’m always sharing something new I’ve learned and he just says, ‘They can do THAT?’ It’s very fun to open the world of bees to others.”
At another station, Prough will detail the aspects of healthy hives for those interested in bee keeping. Prough tours Indiana inspecting hive health and helping bee keepers put into practice processes to ensure a thriving bee population. She will also educate participants about plants that support bee populations. Even those not interested in bee keeping can contribute to a vibrant bee population by including appropriate plants in their gardens. Prough will instruct participants on which plants to grow, how to grow them, and then provide seeds so that participants can get started right after the workshop.
Wild bees build hives in hollow trees. Clifty Falls State Park Naturalist Dick Davis will lead a hike for those interested in seeing a natural bee hive in one of the park’s trees. He will detail the differing aspects between bees living in a domestic hive and those living in the wild. Participants will be able to observe the hive inside the tree and the intricacy of the honeycomb.
For those interested in bee keeping or just further understanding the process, another station will educate participants in the equipment involved in bee keeping – from the protective clothing keepers wear to the tools they use to keep bees and collect the honey.
Children will especially enjoy the chance to try to lift a honeycomb, watch bees at work and handle the equipment used by bee keepers. For those uncomfortable with getting close to the bees, a video of bees at work will offer details of all bees do. Participants will experience the benefits of bees first-hand when served a dish of honey ice cream – the honey produced by local bee keepers and the ice cream manufactured in Indiana.
Davis hopes families and individuals alike will attend to learn more about the role of bees and how they can be involved in preserving this vital resource. Attendees can visit any or all the stations at their own pace.
Those interested in going a step further to actual bee keeping can make contacts with local experts, ask questions and gain hands-on experience with the process and equipment needed. Those contacts continue long after the workshop is over. The Southeastern Indiana Beekeepers Association meets the third Thursday of every month and welcomes anyone interested in bee keeping. The group offers a mentoring program to pair new bee keepers with more experienced to ensure those entering bee keeping have the support and guidance they need to be successful. For more information, visit www.indianahoney.org. Davis currently mentors two budding bee keepers – one who is only 13 years old.
“It’s great fun to help them get started. I love passing along all I’ve learned.”
While no one relishes the thought of a bee sting, Davis hopes greater understanding of all bees contribute will cause people to relish the buzzing of bees nearby. With a deeper appreciation of the intricacy and necessity of bees’ work, the “Eeek” changes to “Wow.”

• For more information, call Clifty Falls State Park at (812) 265-4135.

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