Agriculture students at Cameron University are looking at a sweet future.
A student with an interest in apiculture also known as beekeeping has been taking care of a commercial hive on the Cameron farm this semester and has already harvested the first batch of honey.
Randall Hooker, a sophomore animal science major and general agriculture minor, said he first became interested in beekeeping about three years ago when he was trying to grow giant pumpkins in his back yard. As part of that effort, he began researching bees and pollination.
Late last winter, Hooker talked to Leon Fischer, chair of the Agriculture Department, about starting a hive at the university farm. It was too late to buy bees from distributors; Hooker said bees have to be ordered between November and April, before stocks run out.
There is currently a bee shortage in the United States, the origins of which are still being investigated.
Gary Gross, owner of Tipton Valley Honey, agreed to help out Hooker and Fischer in their attempt to start apicultural activities at Cameron. He donated hive boxes and helped them to catch some bees. Hooker also worked with him for a while to learn some of the basics of beekeeping and how to test for Africanization, which occurs when honeybees have interbred with more aggressive African bee strains.
Fischer and Hooker started the hive at Cameron’s farm earlier this year with two protective suits, a smoker, an extractor and a screening system, in addition to the hive boxes and bees.
Originally, Hooker said, there were two separate hives at the farm, but he convinced the hives to combine so they will be stronger and better able to survive the coming winter.
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