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Local Beekeepers Association to be organized

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This year has been a very good year for most of those involved in agriculture. While there are still some areas of drought in the country and some suffered damage from disasters like floods and the freak snowstorm in October, most farmers and ranchers have had a good year from both a production and profit perspective. One exception to this has been beekeepers.
The past few years have been bad for beekeepers and this year is no exception. Some estimate that half or more of all beehives died out this year across the country and I have heard from local producers that the same happened here. Experts call this phenomenon “colony collapse disorder.” There are many theories on why this is happening ranging from a disease, mites affecting the bees or the use of certain pesticides and herbicides. It may be that a variety of little things, when combined, cause a major threat to the health of bees. The lost hives are not limited to commercial or home bee hives; wild populations have also suffered significant losses.
The result of the shortage of bees has been a significant increase in the price of honey. While this is important, the real potential harm is the loss of bees as a pollination source. Many commercial and home-grown vegetables, fruits and nuts depend on honeybees for pollination. If the plants do not get pollinated there will be no development of the fruit. Pollination is actually an important agriculture business in areas like Florida and California where there are hundreds of thousands of acres of fruits, nuts and vegetables that need to be pollinated. These areas have developed beyond where local bee populations can pollinate all the plants so farmers pay beekeepers to bring bees to the crops during critical pollination periods. Beekeepers send semi-truckloads of beehives around the country to have bees in place when they are needed. These “traveling” beehives have also suffered significant death losses.
Several local beekeepers have asked if I would help organize a Beekeepers Association to allow them to get together to discuss their production problems and to have educational presentations from experts in the subject. We will hold an organizational meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at the extension office. All active beekeepers as well as anybody interested in getting started are invited to attend. We will discuss the type of organization potential members want, including the educational topics to be pursued. If interested, please call the extension office at 270-692-2421 so we will know if there is sufficient interest to hold a meeting.
Beekeeping can be an interesting and profitable business for farmers in Kentucky. There are many resources available to help new and existing beekeepers. Some counties around Central Kentucky have beekeeping organizations and have welcomed members from Marion County. This meeting and the potential for starting a new association is not because those organizations are not doing a good job of educating members. The purpose is to better serve local residents who may not have time to travel to other counties for meetings and educational events.
The Marion County Cattlemen’s Association held its annual meeting last Thursday evening. The meeting was one of the largest ever with over 150 people attending. Gene Lanham was re-elected as president and Steve Downs was re-elected as treasurer. Tommy Glasscock was elected to the board of directors. The association had a very good year with membership growing to a record 282 members making it the third largest county association in the state. The association does much good work in the county by volunteering to cook hamburgers and ribeye steaks for non-profit fundraising efforts ranging from FFA, sports organizations, cancer research and many others. Through these efforts the cattlemen not only raise money for local organizations but are able to promote beef to consumers in the county. Anybody who has had a Cattleman’s rib eye or hamburger knows what good beef is! The association is also very supportive of education for its members, paying fees to attend educational events that help farmers be more efficient and produce a better product while maintaining a humane environment for their animals.
There will be a Greenhouse Production Meeting on Tuesday Dec. 3, at the Fairview Produce Auction in Pembroke (Christian County). The program will begin at 9:30 a.m., central time. Horticulture specialists from the University of Kentucky and Purdue University will present topics including production of annuals and perennials, controlled release fertilizers, managing multiple species in the greenhouse and greenhouse management. The Fairview Auction Manager will discuss upcoming events at the auction.
The next “Master Marketer” class for cattle producers who enrolled, which was scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 26, has been postponed because of scheduling conflicts during the Thanksgiving week. The meeting will be rescheduled at a later date.
The extension office will be closed Thursday and Friday, Nov. 28-29 for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.