Beekeepers to meet, discuss pollinators

Rusty Foltz, president of the Beekeepers of the Northern Shenandoah, is among the growing masses in America seeking answers to declining honeybee populations.

The famous pollinators have made waves recently, as President Barack Obama announced a new national strategy on May 19 to aid the conservation of honeybees.

Although honeybees are popular pollinators, Foltz — like many beekeepers and researchers looking at this issue — noted that they are far from the only ones at work in nature.

“The honeybee and other types of bees, all pollinate our food,” Foltz said. “They create diversity in the plant kingdom and help perpetuate plants.”

Every spring, the Virginia State Beekeepers Association holds an annual meeting to discuss all things honeybees and conservation of related pollinators.

Foltz’s chapter is a local affiliate of the state association and is hosting this year’s meeting at Shenandoah University’s Brandt Student Center in Winchester June 12-13.

The 200-plus members of the Beekeepers of the Northern Shenandoah are looking for solutions to a myriad of issues like pesticide exposure and effects from the cold that area affecting bee populations.

Foltz said, “People are seeing 25 percent and higher” losses of beehives just in the winter months alone.

“I had somewhere around 18 hives, and only had one make it through the winter,” Foltz said, noting that some people actually make it through those months will all of their hives.

Foltz said, “We’re just trying to figure out what is it that some people do that get their hives through the winter.”

At the June 12-13 meeting, the nationwide researchers and association members will converge to discuss the ins and outs of having a beekeeping operation in 21st century.

One of the major concerns the Foltz expressed is an effect he said he and other beekeepers have noticed about housing developments with “pristine, green lawns” that lack plants that attract bees.

“My buddy and I … remember days when we had to be careful when we walked out in the front yard because there was clover and dandelions,” Foltz said. “Bees like that.”

As a result, Foltz added, “The bees are starting to become more like a livestock. They need to be … taken care of a lot more than bees did in the past. It does put the bees in a little more of a risk.”

Foltz expressed that he is hoping to see a crowd of around 200 club members, interested parties and possibly some independent or unaffiliated beekeepers of the region attend the June meetings.

“We love to have anybody that is interested in beekeeping,” he said, “We can all learn from each other.”

More information about the meeting and registration can be found at: http://bit.ly/1HwMtVR.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com