The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) has awarded the Richmond County Beekeeper’s Association with a grant of $5,300 for a new project.
Julius Tillery, Central Piedmont field coordinator with Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Project, said, “The Richmond County Beekeeping Association will be purchasing a mobile honey extraction and bottling unit for small beekeepers in Richmond and neighboring counties. This grant will be used to purchase this equipment and for marketing and outreach opportunities to reach more customers and farmers in the county and surrounding communities.”
This project is being lead by the association’s president David Auman.
“I got the check last week,” said Auman. “We’ll start buying the equipment soon.”
Auman said the enclosed trailer they plan to acquire for extracting honey will eventually be parked near the Agricultural Extension office or a similar place where beekeepers can bring their supers, or hives, to have their honey extracted.
“We’ll charge a small fee,” said Auman. he said a hive can produce between five and 10 gallons of honey “on a good year here in the Sandhills.”
Richmond County’s largest beekeeper is Josh Richardson, a small commercial pollinator. Auman said he keeps between 200 and 300 hives at a time. Auman himself has 20 – 25 hives.
Many may not know a mysterious phenomenon that pops up in Sandhills honey from time to time. It’s called purple honey, or blue honey.
“It’s rare,” said Auman. “In 10 years I’ve had it twice. It reminds me of oil. But if you have it, people will seek it out. The light doesn’t come through.”
Auman said he knew an older gentleman who sent some purple honey to NC State University to have it analyzed. The lab tests came back inconclusive, and they speculated that it might have to do with sourwood species in the Sandhills, or certain metals in the ground.
“I think it just happens,” said Auman. Purple honey is the reason Auman became interested in keeping bees.
“This beekeeper who got me started in honeybees, he was from Montgomery County but he wanted to come to the Sandhills because he wanted to make purple honey. he said he made quite a bit of it in the 70’s.”
Auman said this man served as his honeybee mentor and worked closely with his father. when Auman had a swarm of bees on his property he would call his mentor to come trap them because they were worth $55. Auman watched several times as his mentor placed the bees in a hive, and when the time came, he tried it himself.
“And that’s how I got hooked,” he said.
The next beekeeper’s association meeting will be a field day on may 7, during which the beekeepers and State Inspector Nancy Ruppert will visit some of the association’s newest members. she will evaluate the hives and answer questions.
“She’s the most patient person you could ever meet,” said Auman. “She’s excellent for beginners. she will try to do this without killing a single bee. she usually wears shorts and will tie her pant-leg with a shoestring so bees won’t get in.”
The Richmond County Beekeepers Association has about 30 members.
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
<a href="http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/view/full_story_home/12867848/article-Beekeepers-get-grant-for-mobile-honey-extracting-unit?instance=homesecondary_news_left_columntag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/view/full_story_home/12867848/article-Beekeepers-get-grant-for-mobile-honey-extracting-unit?instance=homesecondary_news_left_columnThu, 21 Apr 2011 04:17:42 GMT 00:00″>Richmond County Daily Journal – Beekeepers get grant for mobile honey extracting unit