Harrisburg – Tom Jones has been beekeeping for almost 20 years. Now the Brooklyn native enthusiastically shares his expertise with visitors at the 2010 Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.
First drawn into a Capital Area Beekeepers’ Association meeting by a sign advertising a ‘Nice Hobby with Sweet Rewards,’ Jones decided to get involved because of the welcoming community he found there.
Beekeepers like Jones don’t just keep bees for the honey. Visitors to Farm Show learn that honeybees pollinate more than 90 different crops, as well as native plants, and are responsible for one out of every three bites of food Americans eat. They also make beeswax, which can be used to make candles, soap, lip balm, and other products, available at the PA State Beekeepers’ Association display in the Main Hall.
Farm Show visitors can visit several booths, including the food court stand that sells honey waffles and six different flavors of honey ice cream. At the Farm Show Detectives learning station kids can use a stethoscope to hear the live buzzing bees in a glass observation hive while volunteers demonstrate how bees collect pollen and nectar to make honey.
Honey extraction demonstrations throughout the week teach visitors how honey is harvested from the hive. These can be seen Friday, Jan. 15, at noon, and Saturday, Jan. 16, at 2 p.m.
After learning about the importance of honeybees to the environment and agriculture, Farm Show visitors may have a greater understanding of why Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a serious problem. A recent topic in the news, CCD has devastated honeybee colonies around the world by mysteriously emptying entire hives.
Jones lost 39 of his colonies in 2007, and now has 35 remaining.
“The weather, nutrition or other factors may have contributed as well, but that’s a lot of bees to lose,” said Jones.
For those considering taking up beekeeping as a hobby, Jones recommends taking a Short Course offered by the Capital Area Beekeepers’ Association, where new beekeepers gain hands-on experience and useful knowledge to begin successfully managing a hive.
For more information about Pennsylvania beekeeping visit www.pastatebeekeepers.org.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 285 commercial exhibitors. The show runs Jan. 9-16 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg. Admission is free and parking is $10. Visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us for details.
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