Call it a sign of the times, but the new year brings a new class to the Community Center in downtown Fort Wayne.
Intro to Beekeeping will be offered Jan. 20. The center decided to offer the class after a presentation showed that there might be some interest in the subject, said Linda Falater, adult program coordinator. By early December, the minimum of five people had signed up. The two-hour class costs $16.
Wintertime is when you order your bee equipment and "get it all ready for when the bees arrive in the spring," said Maraiah Russell, the class instructor.
People are worried about honeybees. In 2014 alone, U.S. beekeepers reported the second- ;highest number of losses ever recorded, according to the Bee Informed Partnership. The partnership conducted a study with the Apiary Inspectors of America and the United States Department of Agriculture and found that about 42 percent of bees died between April 2014 and April 2015.
Pair that with the fact that about one-third of American crops are pollinated by honeybees, and the bees are estimated to add $14 billion in agricultural value. More than 130 fruits and veggies depend on the honeybees.
In Fort Wayne, residents are allowed to have two beehives on their property, away from property lines, said Russell, who kept bees with her grandfather while growing up in Switzerland County in southeast Indiana. She is a regular on the bee lecture circuit in Fort Wayne.
"This is going to be a class for very beginners who are thinking about getting into beekeeping," said Russell, who works as a veterinary technician at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. "I just want to introduce the basics of bee biology and some of the terminology as far as the equipment."
For instance, "supers" are nothing more than an additional box for the bees to store their honey. Supers go on the hive body, which is your "bottom box." "That’s where they have all their brood," Russell said.
Bees are typically ordered in a 3-pound package buzzing with 30,000 bees. Beekeepers can also buy a starter hive, called a "nuke" or nucleus, from a local beekeeper who has divided a hive.
Russell estimated startup costs between $300 and $400. A complete hive with eight to 10 frames has a bottom board, hive body, two or three supers and an inner and outer cover.
They can be plastic or wood, but it’s Russell’s personal opinion that bees don’t prosper with plastic.
Eight years ago, when Russell was purchasing her own equipment, a bee packet cost about $75. Now, with the shortage, a packet can run $125, she said.
As proof that people are taking the bee problem into their own hands, Russell said the Northeast Indiana Beekeeper’s Association used to draw about 20 to 30 people to its meetings held at the Classic Cafe. These days, it’s not uncommon to have 100 people in attendance, she said.
The class reached its minimum enrollment in early December, but there are a few spots left. Students will receive a book on beekeeping and tons of excellent websites and catalogs for advice and purchasing.
Interesting tidbit: A swarm of bees is hardly dangerous. "That’s the way the hive naturally divides. The current queen is leaving the hive with about three-quarters of the worker bees," Russell explained.
"They fill up on honey, and they land in a tree or an eave of a house hanging down. They’re just looking for a new home. They’re not aggressive in that state because they have no home to defend and they’re full of honey. Their bellies are full of honey, and it’s hard for them to sting."
"When you see them in that state, it’s nothing to be worried about. Beekeepers would be very happy to come and remove a swarm of honeybees," Russell said.
For more information, call 260-427-6460.
Awards and honors
• Woodside Middle School teacher Donna Hazelett has advanced to the top four for SHAPE America’s National Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year.
Hazelett teaches physical and health education at Woodside Middle School and has been a teacher for 30 years. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Saint Francis and earned her master’s degree at IPFW.
• The Taylor University Lyric Theatre’s production of "Amahl and the Night Visitors" earned a third-place tie in Division I of the National Opera Association’s 2014-2015 Opera Production Competition, a nationwide competition for colleges and universities.
The opera was produced by Taylor Sounds, Taylor Symphony Orchestra, Taylor Theatre, Envision Productions, dance and art students and community members. The award coincides with the launch of Taylor’s Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in music theater this year.
• Bishop Luers High School received a $6,000 grant from best-selling author James Patterson to support its school library. The Scholastic Reading Club matches each dollar of Patterson’s donation with bonus points that teachers can use to acquire books and other materials for their classrooms. Bishop Luers High School was selected from 27,924 applications for funding grants. The full list of grant recipients is available online at www.scholastic.com/pattersonpartnership.
• Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University is launching a Doctor of Ministry degree. The first cohort, which will focus on transformational leadership, will begin in summer 2016. For more information, contact Bob Whitesel, professor of Missional Leadership, at 614-885-7921 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students and parents who have a favorite teacher may nominate the individual for Teacher Honor Roll. Send nominations to The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893; or email email@example.com.
To submit an item, send a typed release from the school or organization to Education Notebook, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893; or email firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks before the desired publication date.