POWDERLY, Ky. (7/24/14) — The parking lot was full Monday night at the Muhlenberg County Agricultural Center.

The monthly meeting of the Muhlenberg County Bee Keepers Association was being held.

Association president Nathan Lovell presided over the meeting with about 30 people attending including children, who are raising bees as part of a 4H project.

There was a lot of talk about the new Apiarist, Dr. Tammy Horn from Eastern Kentucky University. Horn was asking members to fill out a hive count form. The form was developed to identify the number of hives kept by Kentucky citizens.

The hive count form received mixed reviews as some members think the government may have mixed motives in requesting a hive count. Some fear the count will lead to the government making demands on how bees are raised and treated for various diseases or pests. One member was worried that the government could demand all hives in an area could be ordered destroyed if specific diseases were found in the hive population.

After comments by various members concerning beetles and parasites that plague some members of the association, they adjourned to view the new farmers market located next to the agricultural center. The excitement about the building was not only because it involves a permanent place to sell their produce but also, it includes a Honey Kitchen.

Muhlenberg County will have Kentucky's only Honey Kitchen. A Honey Kitchen is a place where any citizen, who raises bees, can bring their hives and have their honey extracted free of charge.

The county has invested in an extraction machine that slices off the front of the honey cells on the comb. It then places the comb in a centrifuge, which forces the honey from the comb and into a collector. The comb remains intact, and it is a simple matter for the bees to reuse the comb without having to build a new one.

The advantage of the county having a Honey Kitchen is that it takes a lot of the expense out of raising bees. A person can start a hive for about $200 but it is the expense of equipment that discourages many from raising bees. The availability of the honey extractor will make it much easier for an average person to begin raising a hive or hives.

The importance of a county hosting bee keepers is seen in the fact that the United States has lost most of its feral bee population. Without bees, the only crops that Kentucky could raise would be corn and soybeans.

According to Tony Knight, a member of the association, the destructive mites and beetles were brought in on shipping crates from Florida. The non-native pests spread quickly and killed about 80 percent of the nation's bees.

An unidentified member of the association was very proud of his six feral bee hives he has managed to obtain. While some members have quite a bit of trouble with the beetles, his six feral hives have no sign of any pests including those that devastated the nation's bees.

For more information about the Muhlenberg County Bee Keepers Association, stop by the local farmers' market or contact the Muhlenberg County Agricultural Center.

Charles Riley
SurfKy News Reporter
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