Brownwood Area Community Garden director Daniel Graham will host a beekeeping fundamentals class for beginners on Thursday, Dec. 14 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Bettie Coggin Taber Park in Brownwood.
The class is designed to introduce beekeeping to those interested in learning more about the ancient practice. Graham, who oversees several hives of his own, said honeybees and humans have had always had a mutually beneficial relationship.
“The most important thing in that relationship, initially, was food,” Graham said. “Bees made the honey, and honey was the sweetest thing in nature.”
But Graham said the value of honey goes far beyond its sweetness. “Probably the second thing humans used honey for was to make alcoholic beverages. Some other important products are beeswax, pollen and propolis, which the bees collect from the sticky resins and gums of plants. … People have used propolis medicinally from ancient times.
“Of course, in the modern era we rely on honeybees for almost everything that’s in the produce department,” he said.
In addition the the allure of making one’s own honey, beekeeping can bring tax exemptions and create safe environments for the honeybee, whose numbers are in precipitous decline. “State governments and the federal government are now providing landowner incentives to keep honeybees,” Graham said.
Beekeeping isn’t limited to those with lots of land — urban beekeeping, for instance, has taken off in recent years. “A backyard is usually going to be adequate,” Graham said. “The most important thing for someone who wants to keep bees is, you do have to have a safe spot to put them. A spot that’s gotten more popular … is rooftops. I’ve actually got a spot on top of my friend’s carport in Early. If you have a small house or a small yard, you just have to find a fairly level spot that you have access to.
“And temperament is very important. You’ve got to have kind of an easygoing, relaxed attitude. You can’t be easily rattled.”
For the products they produce and the crops they pollinate, Graham said it’s important to teach a new generation of beekeepers. “America needs more young beekeepers, just like America needs more young farmers,” he said.
Graham’s beekeeping fundamentals class is $20 per individual or $25 for couples, and children are free. No reservation is required. Graham recommends that attendees bring lawn chairs and notebooks for note taking.
For questions about the class, or to inquire about alternate times if unavailable on Thursday, Graham can be reached at 325-641-9029. Bettie Coggin Taber Park is located at the corner of Vincent St. and Ave. I.