To bee or not to bee? That was the question answered at a public workshop

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A workshop at the Tupelo Creative Commons on Saturday created more buzz than usual.
That’s because the topic was beekeeping.
More than 30 people showed up to see dozens of honeybees swarming around the city-kept beehive at the Commons.
But many of the human participants weren’t as comfortable as their subjects seemed.
While listening to instructor and longtime beekeeper Ken Pickens give the ins and outs of his specialty, Richard Spencer made sure he kept his eyes on the hive and its occupants.
Spencer, who lives in Amory, said his father kept bees when he was a boy and he thought it would be interesting to learn how the whole thing worked.
“I’m not allergic to bee stings but I sure don’t want to get stung,” said Spencer, still watching the hive. “It has always been fascinating to me how hard these little guys work and how they always go back to the same hive. I use to get stung all the time messing around my dad’s hive and it never bothered me. But I guess I’ve lost my nerve in my old age.”
Pickens schooled the participants on the different types of bees that make up the hive; bee behavior; how to avoid stings; and how to get the stinger out if you do get stung.
“Beekeeping is a good thing to get into,” he said.
“Pure honey is the best honey you can get. It’s not processed like some of the honey purchased in stores. If you learn how to take care of the bees and what to look for, it’s not hard to manage a hive.”
Marcy Campbell of Tupelo has tried her hand in beekeeping only to wake up and find all of her bees gone.
She said she’d gone online for information but decided that a real expert might offer better advice.
“It’s not as easy as it looks,” said Campbell.
“My husband and I bought a book and went on the Internet to learn but we failed miserably. I think bees are beautiful insects and I love watching them work, so I really want my hive to be successful this time. I’ve already learned more in this hour than I did by reading the book and looking on the Internet.”
Because he’s been dealing with the insects for so long, Pickens doesn’t wear a netted masked or other protecting like many beekeepers.
On Saturday, his only protection was a pair of rubber gloves as he removed the top of the city beehive to reveal hundreds of bees buzzing around, as well as the honeycombs they had filled with honey and sealed with wax.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@journalinc.com.