Greene County Honey Harvest raises awareness of beekeeping, native plants

The Greene County Beekeepers Association’s Honey Harvest, held last weekend, is a growing local festival that aims to raise awareness about beekeeping, native plants, and the importance of protecting honeybees.

The Honey Harvest has been going on since 2011, but has grown in the last few years to a small festival, currently held at Camp Greene, 3452 Grinnell Road in Yellow Springs. Last year it drew about 200 people, despite the pouring rain, said Cynthia Olsen, co-chair of the Honey Harvest.

“It is a free event, and it’s family friendly, with food vendors. It’s just a very nice afternoon,” Olsen said.

Master beekeepers attend and talk about their work, as well as how to protect bees in your own yard. They showed off a living cross-section of a hive with bees busy making honey and raising baby bees.

To extract honey, a beekeeper first takes a full frame of honey, and uses a small tool to either poke holes in or scrape off the wax caps covering the honey. Then, the frames are placed into an extractor, a small barrel with either a hand crank or an electric crank.

Bees engineer their honeycomb so that the cells of the comb angle slightly downward, like a cup. When frames are put into the extractor, they are put in with the top of the frame facing outward. The beekeeper then cranks the handle so all the honey spins out onto the walls of the extractor, and flows down into a waiting bucket.

The honey is then strained of any impurities and processed into jars for sale.

Honeybees generally don’t want to sting people, Olsen said, but will do so if they feel the hive is threatened.

“That’s something that a lot of people don’t understand, that honey bees are actually very mild,” she said. “They don’t want to sting because they die.”

The best thing that people can do to support honeybees in their own yard is to plant bee-friendly and native plants, like clover, beebalms, butterfly weed, asters, and others.

“Ohio is one of the major beekeeping states,” Olsen said. “And I think it’s because we’re a very agricultural state. There’s also lots of orchards, lot of small farms, things that are very attractive to bees.”

There are several beekeepers associations around the state of Ohio. The Greene County Beekeepers Association has about 120 members, the youngest of whom is 10 years old. The master beekeepers also provide scholarships and mentor students in local 4-H clubs.

Last weekend’s event includeed several local vendors and crafters, a food truck, native plants for sale, children’s crafts and activities, and demonstrations on how to extract honey.

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