Submitted by Dale Cunningham
WCBA President, 354-6916

The West Central Beekeepers Association (WCBA) is halfway through their series of spring classes sponsored in part by the Little Kanawha Area Foundation (LKAF) and the WVU Extension Service.

Beekeepers have been busy learning about bee biology, spacing, hive construction, and swarm management, with much more to be covered in the remaining classes.

A total of twenty-five three-pound packages of bees along with one queen each and 12 new hives will be provided with cost-sharing funds from the LKAF and the WCBA. The packages of bees will be delivered on Saturday, April 11, 2009 in the early morning at the West Fork Park Community Building in Arnoldsburg, where the classes are currently being held.

This series of classes and cost-sharing opportunity is intended to help local apiarists recover from prolonged drought and late freezes that sent commercial bee numbers down two to three times the rate of typical winters over the past couple years. It is also to promote local crop pollination, honey production, and sales, while encouraging new beekeepers to become skilled apiarists.

This local effort to increase honeybee production is in line with last year's state effort by the West Virginia Legislature, which provided $200,000 of assistance to beekeepers across the state through a program administered by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to purchase supplemental feed, 20% more bees than in 2007, as well as, needed mite treatment medication.

The WCBA is awaiting funding notification from the Department of Agriculture to offer a similar series of classes to its membership this coming fall.

Along with this series of classes the WCBA meet as a club on a monthly basis, typically on the fourth Saturday of the month at 2:30 p.m. They alternate meeting locations between West Fork Park Community Building in Arnoldsburg and the Roane County Library in Spencer to accommodate members from the far ends of Calhoun and Roane Counties.

Their next meeting is scheduled for this Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 2:30 p.m. in the Roane County Library basement meeting room, where they will have a guest speaker discuss spring hive preparation.

New members, regardless of residency, are always encouraged to attend. For more information about membership, contact Association President, Dale Cunningham at 304-354-6916 or Secretary/Treasurer Sharon Christ at 304-927-1775.

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