CLARKS SUMMIT — The first pollen of the season, winter losses and the appropriate voltage for electric bear fences were among the topics of casual conversation buzzing around a room at the Abington Community Library during the Lackawanna Backyard Beekeepers meeting Thursday, March 10.
More than 20 people were in attendance, with experience ranging from a casual interest in starting the hobby to several years of commercial beekeeping. But all were welcomed and everyone had something to say.
Renee Czubowicz and Maggie Miller, both of North Abington Township, stepped into leadership of the club in September with a goal of growing the local beekeeping community and helping it to thrive. According to Czubowicz, only about a dozen people or less came to that first month’s meeting, but by January, that number grew to 27.
The meetings are relaxed, sometimes with guest speakers and educational presentations and other times with attendees simply conversing about their common passion for beekeeping.
“We really would rather the club to be member-driven than leader-driven,” Czubowicz said.
During the March meeting, each person took the opportunity to introduce him-or-herself, tell a little about his or her bee hives and ask an occasional question of the others.
One new beekeeper said he recently noticed a light-colored pollen coming in and others chimed in on what kind it might be.
Those who are already experienced in beekeeping compared notes with each other regarding winter survival rates. Whose hives survived and who suffered losses?
Another newcomer had questions about electric bear fences: Are they necessary? What is the best method of construction? How much voltage should one use? The answer to the first was a resounding “yes” from all involved. Stories commenced of hives being destroyed by bears, and even of sheds and vehicles getting ripped apart by the large mammals looking for a sweet treat. The answers to the other questions, group members said, depend on the individuals and their hives.
Others talked about the different kinds of hives one can buy or construct, such as top bar hives, which have lighter combs and are therefore easier to lift, and Langstroth hives, which are better for maximizing the production of honey.
When it was Miller’s turn, she reassured the newcomers, saying she was once in their shoes. She first got involved in the club and beekeeping after acquiring a small farm. Wanting bees to pollinate her then-newly planted garden, she said she came to her first meeting and it felt like her head “exploded.”
“It’s so much information, I know,” she said.
But she encouraged them to keep taking it all in and then go out and learn from experience.
The club generally meets at 6:30 p.m. the second Thursday of every month at the Abington Community Library. Next month’s meeting, however, is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 12 at the library. Cancellations and updates are emailed to members and posted on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1QVHBzH.
The club also hosts occasional educational events in the community. Members will man information tables at two Earth Day events this year, the first from 12 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 16 at The Mall at Steamtown in Scranton and the second from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 23 at Everything Natural in Clarks Summit. An observation hive with live bees will be on display at both events, along with literature about how to help honeybees.
More information can be obtained by calling 570-335-3091 or emailing email@example.com.
Reach Elizabeth Baumeister at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @AbingtonJournal.