Sunday, June 4, 2023

Here’s how one organization is educating the public on honey bees

(HNNDaily Photo/courtesy of Pexels)
(HNNDaily Photo/courtesy of Pexels)

HAMTPON — The Colonial Beekeepers Association has one main goal: To try and educate the public on honey bees and here’s how they do it.

Andy Westrich, president of the association, has been in charge for the past three years, but the organization dates back to the 1980’s.

He said most of what the association does is work on public outreach.

The Colonial Beekeepers Association is a nonprofit made up entirely of volunteers.

They come out and do presentations on honey bees for various groups and schools, partner with the Master Gardeners and offer beekeeping classes in the fall, winter and spring.

Of the roughly 8 or 9 Master Beekeepers in the state, four of them are part of the Colonial Beekeepers Association.

To become a Master Beekeeper you must have six years of beekeeping service, complete a practical laboratory test which includes demonstrate honey bee dissection and disease identification and have 20 hours of public service credit annually relating to honeybees and beekeeping, according to the Virginia State Beekeepers Association. 

Westrich, one of the master beekeepers, said he has been beekeeping since 2004 and in the process of becoming a Master Beekeeper he took over as president of the Colonial Beekeepers Association to fulfill his service requirements.

Currently, Westrich is a beekeeper for the Virginia Living Museum, St. George Brewing Company and will attend to calls.

His honey is used to make the Honey Mead Lager at St. George Brewing Company.

What do beekeepers do?

While the Colonial Beekeepers Association’s primary goal is to educate, they can help the public out with their bee-related needs, Westrich said.

He said people will call them and say that they have a bee’s nest or something similar that they need help removing.

The association can then put those people in touch with either a beekeeper if it’s a honey bee problem, or pest control if it’s a hornet’s or wasp’s nest.

Colonial Beekeeper Association president, Andy Westrich poses in front of bees at St. George Brewing Company. (Troy Jefferson/HNNDaily)
Colonial Beekeeper Association president, Andy Westrich poses in front of bees at St. George Brewing Company. (HNNDaily file photo)

A few places that Westrich has removed bees from are in the walls of sheds, up in trees, in a cable box on the side of the road and most interestingly, on the underside of a manhole.

Westrich wants to make sure the honey bees are being kept safe while the others are being dealt with by professionals.

To learn more about the Colonial Beekeepers Association, click here.

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