Friday, January 28, 2005

Bee here, now

Our area's small-farmer scene in buzzing about a new program to promote bee-keeping in North Carolina.

Seems that the ongoing, state-wide transition from tobacco to vegetable farming has created a shortage of bees for pollination. "I feel that if we don't do something now about (this) we may be heading toward an agriculture crisis in the state," David Tarpy, the state's cooperative extension apiculturist and assistant professor at North Carolina State University, told AP.

"Twenty years ago the state had a healthy population of wild bees, but they have been ravaged by mites. Farmers now rely on a dozen or so commercial beekeepers to pollinate their crops," the article states. Mites, huh? Might insecticide use have played a role in this problem?

At any rate, the state ag extension office, working with NC State University, is distributing $164,00 to promote small-scale bee-keeping. The grant will provide 250 lucky applicants with two hives of Russian honey bees and bee hives; they'll have to come up with their own protective gear, etc.

We at Maverick Farms were disappointed to learn that the program has already recieved 600 applications (deadline February 11). We'd love to score a couple of freebie hives; we adore raw, unfiltered, local honey. And we use it to make a mean Provence-style ice cream, every chance we get.

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