Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

August 24, 2013

BEES!

Once buzzing Thurber to host beekeeping program


Mineral Wells Index

— By CLINT FOSTER

Who doesn't love honey? It goes great on virtually any carb and, depending on who you ask, plenty of other foods, too. But have you ever considered the next time you feel "rumbly in your tumbly for something sweet," to quote the wise Winnie the Pooh, you could be getting your very own fresh honey from your own backyard?

As part of its monthly special Sunday programs, the W.K. Gordon Center, a Tarleton-State-University-owned industrial history museum and research facility in the once-booming company town of Thurber, Texas, will host the Dino-Bee Beekeepers club for a free public program about beekeeping in the Lone Star State.

The program, called "Bee Hives and Honey: Beekeeping in Texas," will take place Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. and feature beekeepers Earl Hillock and Lavonda Becker of the Glen-Rose-based Dino-Bee club.

Museum Assistant Lauren Giffin said the Gordon Center often hosts such events on Sundays, dealing with either the industrial history of Texas or just something related to Texas in general. In the past, they have hosted presentations on lawn care during droughts, book signings, visits from the Dublin Bottling Works and other educational programs and group tours.

"[Hillock and Becker] are going to be sharing the history of bees and beekeeping in this area," Giffin said. "They're also going to provide some information on how to start your colony, some of the best equipment, the cost of getting started and anything else that people would be interested in."

Dino-Bee Secretary David Lyons said bees are very important to society, suggesting that as much as one out of three foods people eat have to be pollinated by bees.

"To me, they're just fascinating little creatures," he said. "It's kind of an odd little addiction to mess with bees; I would have never guessed it. It's just real rewarding knowing that the bees, which to some people are poison, are in one of your boxes producing honey for you. We need bees around, so anything we can do to help them, we're helping ourselves"

Lyons said beekeeping is not particularly hard work because bees only need attention on a weekly to biweekly basis. According to the Dino-Bee website, which has copious amounts of information about the hobby, it costs roughly $350 to buy a hive and get started beekeeping. With all the necessary equipment purchased, beekeepers typically manage colonies of 30,000 to 60,000 buzzing honey bees.

But even with thousands of bees finding homes in the backyards of Dino-Bee club members, the bee population is in great danger and has been declining. According to a press release, the BeeAction campaign is raising money to help American bee populations. Furthermore, the campaign warns about many pesticides found on plants and in bottles at stores claiming to be "bee-friendly," are instead causing the black and gold insects to drop like flies.  BeeAction hopes to put pressure on corporate chains to alleviate damage to the struggling bee community.

As for locals aspiring to be beekeepers, Lyons said joining a beekeepers association is the best place to start. He said Dino-Bee in Glen Rose is the most convenient one to Mineral Wells and the rest of Palo Pinto County.

"You can learn a lot from being in a beekeepers association," he said. "I've learned a lot."

For more information about Dino-Bee or becoming a beekeeper, visit their website at www.dinobee.com. Anyone interested in the Gordon Center can visit their website as well at www.tarleton.edu/gordoncenter or by calling 254-968-1886.

Follow Clint on Twitter @Clint_Foster55