Grown Here at Home: Beekeeper clubs partner to give beginner beekeeping course
BLUE RIDGE, Va. (WDBJ) - With a rapid decline in the honeybee population in recent years, there’s a big push to get more beekeepers in the Commonwealth. There are several resources across our hometowns to help. Vasilia McCrady is the owner of Heritage Apiary in Blue Ridge. She’s a member of the Botetourt Beekeepers Association and the vice president of the Blue Ridge Beekeepers Association. She says both organizations are good for beginners and experts alike.
“Everyone’s there to support, engage, and encourage everybody who wants to be beekeepers,” Vasilia said.
The Blue Ridge Beekeepers Association is one of the oldest running clubs in the Commonwealth. It has over 300 years of combined experience.
“There are multiple master beekeepers in the association. It’s a six-year program with multiple tests that you have to do, including dissecting a bee. [They] know everything inside of the hive,” Vasilia explained.
She has several mentors who are helping her on her journey as a beekeeper. Vasilia says many of them are 50 and older. However, she believes there are generations behind them that lacked people who wanted to become beekeepers.
“It’s a lot of work. It’s definitely a time commitment; and I feel like we’re missing that group to carry on the next generation of beekeepers. So, we’re looking for anybody and anyone willing to learn,” Vasilia said.
The Botetourt Beekeepers Association meets the first Monday of every month at the Botetourt Bee Sanctuary in Daleville. If there’s a change in location and time, they’ll tell you about it on their Facebook page. The Blue Ridge Beekeepers Association meets at the Department of Environmental Quality office in Salem the third Thursday of each month, except for December. You can find updates on their Facebook page, as well. Both clubs are working together to bring a beginner beekeeping class starting in February.
“The beekeeping course is five Saturdays between the Blue Ridge Association and The Botetourt Association. It’s those master beekeepers that are holding that program in hopes to get people inside those seats and more knowledgeable about what’s going on in our Virginia bee life,” Vasilia said.
With hopes that a new generation of beekeepers will come along to keep our honeybee population strong.
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