Saturday, December 24, 2016

Pax Vobiscum

A scene in an upcoming motion picture depicts a young man’s chance encounter with a swarm of bees that results in life-changing awareness for himself. The movie, Dayveon, will be aired in Utah on the first day of the renowned Sundance Film Festival in late January 2017. Emily and Jeremy Bemis and I were the film’s bee wranglers, producing an artificial swarm for the camera. The film, directed by Amman Abbasi of Little Rock, tells the story of a 13-year-old who joins a gang in a rural Arkansas town. You can see the bees and read how we created a swarm on a tree limb on my August 18, 2015 posting, “Wrangling Movie Bees.” Throughout history, people have been intrigued by honey bees. Often it is such a chance encounter with swarming bees that excites people to learn how to handle bees.

In the United States, beekeeping is both an important part of our agriculture and an engaging hobby. In the highlands of Ethiopia, beekeeping is a major part of a mixed agriculture, adding significantly to insuring food stability. I am proud to have had the opportunity to train eager beekeepers in the art and science of managing honey bees in both countries. Beekeeping classes, taught by Jeremy Bemis and me, at Bemis Honey Bee Farm in Little Rock attract large numbers of beekeepers, some starting and others expanding their knowledge and skills. Individuals travel great distances to attend my beekeeping classes in Arkansas State University’s Community Education program at three campuses: Heber Springs, Searcy, and Beebe, Arkansas. Today’s photo is Sugar Loaf Mountain, which overlooks the ASU Heber Springs campus. Almost anyone can keep bees. All that is needed is an interest in observing and attending to marvelous, industrious little creatures living harmoniously in wooden boxes. Classes, books, and mentoring teach the art and science of keeping bees. Be forewarned: Beekeeping can become a life-changing endeavor. The Underhill family of Peace Bee Farm offers that peace be with you.
--Richard

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