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Author Topic: Honey Festival creates a buzz  (Read 1747 times)
BigRog
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Location: Richmond, Virginia


« on: September 13, 2004, 07:30:06 PM »

Honey Festival creates a buzz

By DAVE PAYNE Sr.


PARKERSBURG, WV - It wasn't just the taste of sweet honey, but a drop in ticket prices and a special area for children that helped pack people in at the West Virginia Honey Festival at City Park over the weekend, organizers said.

About 2,500 people attended Saturday alone, said Carol Gaydac, festival coordinator.
This year, the entrance fee was reduced from $3 to $2 and an additional dollar could purchase attendance for both days. No weekend pass was available last year.

The festival had a special area for children for the first time this year, with carnival games, magicians and face painting.

Washington, W.Va., resident Wanda Turner brought her three-year-old son Alex to the festival Sunday and was able to shop between trips to the children's area for her son to bounce on an inflatable trampoline.

"He bounced, then we got some honey, then lots of shopping, then he's bouncing again. The hardest part has been getting him to leave the kids section," she said.

Parkersburg resident Art Joy Sr. has been keeping bees for decades and began tending bees with his father at a young age. He has 112 hives.

"Beekeeping is just like smoking. I guess it grows on you. It's interesting and relaxing, even if it is work," Joy said.

He has been eating honey even longer and spent many boyhood days chewing honey-laden beeswax.

"We used it for chewing gum. That's all we had back then," he said.

About 1,500 West Virginians keep the nearly 20,000 colonies of bees in the state, said George Clutter III, apiarist for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

Their hives produce 1.25 million pounds of honey each year, which is worth about $3 million.

Thanks to efforts to educate beekeepers, their investments are faring better than most in the eastern United States, Clutter said.

While Pennsylvania has twice the number of hives, West Virginia produces more honey, he said. Pennsylvania hives average about 27 pounds per honey each year, while those in West Virginia average 72 pounds. Profits from a well-tended colony average about $100 per season, he said.

Clutter said beekeeping is an endeavor suited perfectly to the Mountain State.

"In West Virginia, the steep terrain prohibits a lot of conventional farming, but that's not a problem for bees. Actually, some of the most economically depressed areas of the state are the best honey producers. A person could keep 35 colonies and make $3,500 in their backyard," he said.

As more honey is produced, more people are buying, whether for the taste of honey or for its health benefits - such as providing antioxidants or helping with allergies, Clutter said. Using honey instead of sugar in baked goods extends the shelf life of those foods by two weeks, he said.

In addition to honey products and crafts, the festival also included live entertainment and other activities. The performers included the In Step Dance Team, Portal, the Pipe and Drums of St. Andrew, Griffith and Cross, Shhhbang, Amanda DeBarr Edwards, the Parkersburg High School Red Wings, the Williams Family and the Proclaimers.

There was also baton twirling, a cooking demonstration, baking contest, a honey and wax show, and Steve Conlon sporting a beard of live bees.
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"Lurch my good man,…what did you mean when you said just now that 'You've got better things to do than run my petty little errands'…….?"
Anonymous
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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2004, 10:50:13 PM »

I beg to differ with the reported 27 pounds of honey per colony in Pennsylvania. The sources that I have seen put the Pa. yield at an average of 60 pounds per colony. Admitedly it's lower then the reported 72 pounds in W.Va. but both are still below the average of 100 pounds per colony that I've gotten so far this year and I haven't even taken off my fall honey yet  My girls are really working the goldenrod and aster that are just now coming into full bloom here. When I go anywhere near my apiary I get the delightful aroma of honey cooking in the hives from twenty feet away. Even my splits and nucs that I started this year have from two to four supers on them.

I read that excess rain in different parts of the country have put a damper on honey production this year. I don't know why but we've already had 20% more rain than we normally get in a full year and my hives seem to be doing great. We had over 3 inches of rain in two days when the remnants of hurricane Frances came through here last week. Now we're in a period of 75 - 80 degree weather and the bees are loving it.
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BigRog
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Location: Richmond, Virginia


« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2004, 12:20:56 AM »

It could be that you don't have the peristant humidity that I know is the case in VA. Yes we have had a lot of rain but nothing has had any chance to dry out. The humidity almost never goes lower then 80%. and it is 90 - 95 % all night every night.
Nothing ever gets dry.
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"Lurch my good man,…what did you mean when you said just now that 'You've got better things to do than run my petty little errands'…….?"
Anonymous
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2004, 09:47:02 PM »

I'm glad that niether my bees nor I have to live in that kind of humidity. Ours varies a great deal from day to day. We've had days in the 90% range but fortunately it normally gets into the 60 - 70% range at night.

I just took a walk outside to visit my bees (9:46 PM) and they're still fanning on the landing board and you can smell the honey long before you get near the hives.
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