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All the buzz is about bees in one tent at Boonesborough Days

September 05, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

BOONSBORO - Activities will be buzzing at this year's Boonesborough Days, Saturday and Sunday, but nowhere as much as at the Hagerstown Valley Apian Society's display.

"We will have a tent set up with tables and will be selling honey," said Carl Kahkonen, president of the society. There will also be pamphlets, examples of beeswax and other products at the exhibit.

Observation hives will be manned by members of the society so people can see the activities of bees in an actual hive, Kahkonen said.

"There may also be demonstrations of how a hive is put together and how it functions," he said.

Visibility is the reason for the Boonesborough Days exhibit, according to Kahkonen.

Looking ahead to the future of beekeeping, the Hagerstown Valley Apian Society is announcing the creation of a youth partnership scholarship program.

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"This is a new program we've created to encourage young people between the ages of 12 and 17 to discover the pleasures, benefits and rewards of beekeeping," Kahkonen said.

Honeybees are responsible for one-third of all the food we eat. They pollinate more than 50 different agricultural crops valued at more than $20 billion.

In addition, honeybees produce beeswax and honey valued at more than $150 million annually, Kahkonen said.

The National Honey Board estimates that in 2006, the average per capita consumption of honey was about 1.3 pounds per year.

As America's population has continued to grow, the need for additional domestic food supplies has increased considerably, yet the number of managed honeybee colonies in the United States is half of what it was in the 1970s.

Kahkonen said that before the 1990s, millions of wild colonies inhabited woodlands and agricultural areas. Parasites and viruses have decimated the wild population, making managed apiaries the sole source of these pollinators.

Another reason for the diminished supply of honeybees is that the number of beekeepers in the United States has fallen dramatically.

"In 1976, there were about 212,000 beekeepers nationwide," Kahkonen said. "Today, there are 200,000 because older beekeepers are retiring and are not being replaced by a younger generation."

The society's hands-on program is designed to help young people learn how to raise and care for bees. In addition, participants will learn about the beekeeping industry and how to contribute to a critical agricultural pursuit.

The society is asking those interested to complete an application and return it to HVAS by Oct. 15. All applications will be reviewed, and a single recipient will be awarded the scholarship.

The applicant accepted into the scholarship program will receive one year's complimentary membership to the Hagerstown Valley Apian Society; a colony of bees with the necessary woodenware; free enrollment in an introduction to beekeeping course (including textbook); and mentoring by an experienced qualified beekeeper to help throughout the year.

For more information, visit scoutbee.org or contact HVAS by phone at 240-217-4083 or email at scoutbee@britts.biz or by mail at HVAS Youth Partnership Program Coordinator, 6136 Rohrersville Road, Boonsboro, MD 21713.

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