The Buzz About Bees

Second annual beekeeping event
to include airplanes

Beekeepers, pilots to descend
on Hanover’s Lee Bottom Field

(September 2013) – At first blush, combining bees and open cockpit airplanes seems a bad idea. Yet, pilots comprise one of the largest groups of beekeepers. So when Ginger Davidson, beekeeper, bee mentor, pilot and co-owner of Lee Bottom Flying Field in Hanover, Ind., wanted a reprise last year’s success of Buzz About Bees and also host an event for pilots, she combined the two.


Photo courtesy of Ginger Davison

Jason Morgan (right) explains the workings of a bee hive to a young visitor to last year’s beekeeping event, held at Clifty Falls State Park. This year’s event will be Sept. 14 at Lee Bottom Field in Hanover, Ind.

Crystal Korff, pilot for UPS and a beekeeper, says, “A pilot’s love of flying naturally extends to bees. We tend to have little farms, and beekeeping goes along with that. I can’t wait for The Buzz and the chance to enjoy my two favorite flying machines – airplanes and bees.”
The Buzz is scheduled from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at Lee Bottom Flying Field, which is owned and operated by Davidson and her husband, Rich. A variety of stations will offer attendees insights into beekeeping: how to get started, the benefits of beekeeping to the local economy, and how to plan gardens to nurture bee populations. If those attending want to take a break from the bees, they can head to the airfield for a tour of vintage airplanes and to talk with pilots. Admission is free.
Last year, Buzz became the largest event ever hosted by the Clifty State Park Nature Center when scores of people turned out to learn about bees, beekeeping and the benefits for all. Davidson said she hopes to mirror that success this year – both for attendees and for the bees.


Photos provided

John Miller discusses
his honey-making skills
to visitors at last year’s
beekeeping event at Clifty
Falls State Park. Below from
left are Larry Hagen
and Jim Orem.

“There are many factors associated with the recent decline in honey bees, and the more educated individuals are, the more likely our food source will not diminish,” says Davidson.
Bee pollination is responsible for one-third of all food production. “I like to eat,” says Davidson, “so I mentor young people, monitor over 60 hives in four locations and host events like this.”
For those interested in pursuing beekeeping, an equipment display will show everything needed to care for a hive and protect the beekeeper along with experts to give advice and answer questions. Another station details the bee’s life cycle and offers a glimpse into the bees’ world through an observation hive.
Jim Orem, beekeeper and head of the Southern Indiana Beekeepers Association, will demonstrate how honey makes it from the hive to the table. Samples of honey will be available for tasting, along with the opportunity to purchase a favorite. State apiarist Kathleen Prough will team with local Master Gardner Dr. Elizabeth Bryan to give tips on gardening to nurture bee populations.
“This station will show people how to help bees without actually keeping bees,” says Davidson. “That’s exciting.”
A children’s booth will offer both crafts and bee trivia to explain the role of bees. Children can put their muscles to the test lifting honeycombs. After touring the stations, attendees can taste the fruit of bees’ labor by cooling off with honey-sweetened ice cream made in Indiana.
Davidson said she hopes Buzz inspires wider support for bees. With the average age of beekeepers in their mid-60s, she knows training new beekeepers is essential to protecting bee populations.
Korff, who lives in Louisville, Ky., and was formerly mentored by Davidson, encourages others to sign on. “After moving to Kentucky from the east coast to fly for UPS, my allergies were horrible. I met Ginger at a fly-in at Lee Bottom. She suggested eating locally grown honey to build up a resistance to local pollens and mentored me with my first hive. I now have 20. I eat both the honey and the pollen, which acts like an allergy shot. Though I take some shots, I don’t have to take any of the medicines I did years ago.”
Korff said she looks forward to running the honey tasting booth at Buzz as well as mixing with the pilots for the airplane side of the event.
Beginning in 2006, the Davidsons sponsored annual fly-ins, where hundreds of planes from all over the world would fly in to Lee Bottom for a two-day event. The fly-ins featured food, music and fellowship for the pilots.
“During the day, the public could come get a close look at all the planes. They basically got to see a mini-air show with planes flying in and out,” says Korff.
The tornado of 2012 devastated the airfield’s buildings, putting the fly-ins on hold. Pilots who have developed a love affair with both the airfield and the Davidsons urged them to host another event. Since pilots love bees, Davidson decided to combine her two passions.
Davidson said she hopes to attract people interested in bees, planes or both to Lee Bottom to find out about the wide range of activity at Lee Bottom. “I call what we do Aero-Agri-Eco tourism,” jokes Davidson. “We house bees on the open land surrounding the airfield. We use sheep to keep the parking areas mowed. Since we have been telling our story, we see other airports doing similar things. Chicago O’Hare has recently contracted with farmers to have sheep and goats at their fields. The Indianapolis International Airport is considering housing bees. I like to think that we are a leader in this movement by putting the buzz in people’s ears.”

• For directions to the airfield, visit: www.LeeBottom.com. For more information about the event, contact Ginger Davidson at (812) 866-3211.

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