The Caprock Beekeeping Association hosts events and other learning opportunities to educate people about bees. Vice President and Texas Tech graduate student Melody Harrington and Treasurer Wendell Tucker are both local hobbyist beekeepers who help educate others.
Harrington grew up eating honey as treat and had always been around honey and bees, she said. She got into beekeeping after enrolling her kids in a 4H beekeeping club at a nature center in Northern Virginia.
Tucker got his start in beekeeping after his daughter gifted him a beehive for Christmas several years ago, he said.
“They are very interesting insects,” Tucker said. “They both have individual behaviors. And they have colony behaviors. So, the colony makes them behaves like an organism. And of course, each individual has its own individual behaviors. And they’re just very interesting.”
Harrington said she has learned a number of things in her time beekeeping, but most of all she has learned patience.
“Just like anything in life you learn patience,” Harrington said. “You can’t force the bees to do what they don’t want to do as in hurry up and make all this honey. You have to let them develop their own rhythm within conjunction or with whatever area they’re at.”
There are several types of jobs that involve beekeeping. There are the professional beekeepers who make most of their income through bees and honey, Tucker said. Both Tucker and Harrington are hobbyist beekeepers.
There are pollinators who rent their bees out to farmers for pollination, Tucker said. California Almonds is a company that does this. There also people who sell bees, and there are people who sell beekeeping equipment.
Bees are responsible for pollinating about 80 percent of fruits and vegetables, Tucker said. Cattle feed like alfalfa and clover also rely on bees for pollination
Depending on the type of pollen the bees harvest, the color of the honey can also differ, Harrington said. For example, when she lived in New Jersey, there was cranberry honey that had a pink color.
Local unpasteurized honey can also have little bits of common allergens inside it, which can help people who have allergies by acclimating their immune systems to it in small doses, Harrington said.
Education is also important to both of the beekeepers. There was a booth at the South Plains Fair for the beekeepers to educate others on bees and their importance to the world, Tucker said.
There are several problems threatening bees, Harrington said. One of them is a varroa mite, which feeds off of the developing larva and making the future adult bees weaker. Another problem are wax moths that will get inside hives and destroy them. Both of these problems have natural solutions.
A more recent and more talked about problem is colony collapse, or when all the bees have left the hive completely, Harrington said. Bees will leave the hive normally if they feel as if the environment is too hostile for them to live in.
However, the bees will leave, but will leave the honey they have made inside the hive.
“I will tell you if you take and opened up that honey that they made and set it out, because bees are notorious thieves, they will rob honey, and if there’s any honey or sweets out, they will grab it all…The bees will not touch that honey,” Harrington said.
The honey is contaminated, most likely from pesticides and other chemicals, Harrington said, which is why it is important for people to change their habits to make it safer for pollinators.
The Caprock Beekeeping Association hosts their meetings every third Thursday of the month at the Freeway Bible Church at 6 p.m.