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Beekeepers form local source for sharing information and support

By: Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

Honey has been a naturally cultivated food source for thousands of years.  With mentions in the scriptures and even carvings on the inside of ancient Egyptian pyramids, honey‘s importance throughout mankind’s history is obvious and widespread.  With numerous health benefits and great taste, it is no wonder that the art of beekeeping is still practiced and revered today.
You may have seen the white boxes in yards and thought how wonderful it would be to have your own supply of honey.  As those who pursue the interest soon find out, there are many intricacies in building and maintaining a healthy population of honeybees.  In addition, the widespread outbreak of bee diseases and other threats are making the art of beekeeping more difficult every year.
For those in Johnson County who wish to keep bees, help can be found with other experienced beekeepers.  The Johnson County Beekeeper’s Association is dedicated to providing information and support to locals who wish to further their knowledge and understanding of beekeeping.  
The formation of the association began after a beekeepers class was taught in Mountain City by the UT Extension Office. While interest was great within the community, residents had to travel to Gray, TN or Boone, NC if they wished to attend meetings and converse with other beekeepers.  With help from Rick Thomason of the Extension Office, local beekeepers came together to form the Johnson County Beekeeper’s Association in May 2015.  With 23 people attending that first meeting, it was obvious that the beekeeping spirit was alive and well in Johnson County.  “We were amazed how many people in Johnson County have bees or are interested in having bees,” Association President Mary Shull shared.
Membership to the association is open to people of all ages interested in beekeeping.  Regular club meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month in the Farm Bureau basement starting at 7 pm.  
In addition to discussion among members about their personal beekeeping practices and programs designed to assist beekeepers, special guest speakers are invited to address the group.
On August 11th, Mr. Mark Hurst who teaches beekeeping classes at Caldwell Community College, will be presenting a program about preparing your bees for winter.  Some considerations he will cover will include pest control, food supply, and weather protection.  Featured at the September 8th meeting will be State Apiarist Mike Studer.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.