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Beekeeper club is latest buzz in town

VIDALIA — A local beekeeper is looking to create a buzz around the Miss-Lou in hopes of starting up a local beekeeper club.

Vidalia resident and beekeeper Ken Ensminger said he’s in the process of creating the Miss-Lou beekeeper club, which would help locals interested in starting their own hives.

Ensminger said the club could help increase the current low bee population and honey production in the nation.

“The population of bees right now is at an all-time low, and the worst I’ve ever seen,” he said. “If we could get some people interested and start raising some honey in our area, it would really help bring that population up.”

The reason for the low population, Ensminger said, can be attributed to several factors, but one is slightly more mysterious than the others.

In the past several months, Ensminger said his hives have succumbed to colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive colony suddenly disappear.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve pulled the tops of my boxes and found all this honey, but no bees,” he said. “They just leave, and no one seems to know why or where they are going.”

Another factor contributing to the low honey production is a sudden death of bees in northern California that were sent from beekeepers across the country.

Ensminger, who has 80 hives on his property, said his bees weren’t involved in the California situation, but that it has resulted in a higher demand for honey.

“Those bees that died up in California were from a lot of the big commercial beekeepers, and they still don’t know what happened to them,” Ensminger said. “The one thing it has done though is made a good market for honey because of the low volume.”

With the shortage of bees from the colony collapse disorder and other factors, Ensminger said the nation’s honey production is at a drastic low.

By getting the word out on the high demand and sharing helpful tips with beginners, Ensminger said he hopes to use the beekeeper club to get locals involved and energized about beekeeping.

“If we can put together something here and make it work, people could make some money while also helping the bee population increase,” Ensminger said. “When word gets out that you have local honey, the people will buy it, and they’ll be helping the bee population.

“It’s a win-win situation.”

An introductory meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Ensminger’s house at 250 Airport Road.

Jack Meyer, president of Meyer Honey Farms, will be a guest speaker.

“He’ll talk about what to expect if you want a hive of bees, what the cost is going to be, when the honey will start coming in and all that,” Ensminger said. “The goal is that when he gets through talking, they’ll know if they want to do this or not.”

For more questions about the club, contact Ensminger at 318-336-5729.