SC beekeepers descend on Clemson

07/14/2011

A half decade ago the future of the honey bee was said to be in jeopardy from colony collapse disorder as big media went overboard on yet another sky-is-falling story designed to whip media consumers into a frightened frenzy.

But as the South Carolina Beekeepers Association begins its three-day meeting today at Clemson the key issues here in the Palmetto State isn’t CCD, but that queen bees are dying sooner than expected and bears are destroying and eating the brood and honey in hives, according to Mike Hood, executive secretary of the association and Clemson entomology professor.

“We are really focusing on bear control in one of our seminars,” Hood told the Anderson Independent Mail, adding that the main goal of the meeting isn’t to scare people with problems but to educate them so beekeepers can enjoy their hobby.

“We want to bring them up to date on what is going on in the beekeeping world and to train them to be better beekeepers and better informed,” he said.

About $25 million worth of South Carolina crops depend on honeybees for pollination.

“That is just commercial agriculture,” Hood said. “We also have the backyard gardener, who also require bee pollination and we estimate that at about $20 million a year.

In addition, about $1 million worth of honey is sold in South Carolina.

There are an estimated 2,000 beekeepers in the state, managing about 25,000 honey bee colonies, according to the S.C. Beekeepers Association website.

The meeting is open to anyone interested, with registration beginning at noon today at Clemson’s Poole Agricultural Center on Clemson’s campus. Organizers are expecting 250 beekeepers to attend.

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