Local honeybees benefit all

Beekeeper Mike Ross, from Altamahaw, sells his local products at the Elon Community Church Farmers Market. Ross has been beekeeping and selling his honey locally for the past seven years. Photo by Merissa Blitz.

Starting Sept. 12, the Company Shops Market will sell honey from local Alamance County vendors, including Ross's and Dill's products. Photo by Merissa Blitz.

A distinctive buzz could be heard at downtown Burlington’s Company Shops Market Honeybee Festival Sept. 10.

September marks National Honey Month, and to celebrate, local beekeepers came together at the Company Shops Market. Beekeepers such as Altamahaw native Mike Ross talked about the importance of the honeybee and showcased a sampling of honeybees in a case.

“I got my start in beekeeping about seven years ago,” Ross said. “I’ve been hooked ever since.”

Ross owns tens of thousands of honeybees in multiple hives and has been observing and tracking their behaviors for the past seven years. His insight on the subject led him to start his own business selling honey and beeswax to local farmers’ markets, including the Elon Community Church Farmers’ Market.

“A standard box during the summer can hold between 40,000 and 60,000 honeybees,” Ross said. “During the winter, that number diminishes to about 20,000 bees.”

He said it takes a very large amount of bees to produce even a small pot of honey.

“One honeybee will make one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime,” Ross said.

The beekeepers said honey made by local honeybees has more benefits than most people realize.

“If you use honey produced by bees within 30 miles of your location, it helps your allergies more so than honey produced from far away,” Ross said. “Honey has been one of the earliest medicines, used to do everything from dressing wounds to curing sore throats.”

The queen bee can lay up to 1,500 eggs a day. Photo by Merissa Blitz.

Honeybees also contribute to making many other products such as cooking oil and cleaning supplies, according to Logan Dill, who harvests bees. Without their pollination, these products would require other substitutes or additives for the product to be complete.

Beekeepers Paul Jollay and Toni Murray have their own beekeeping business in Glencoe, and provided free samples of their honey products at the co-op event, featuring flavors such as cinnamon and strawberry. Murray said their products can be found at The Nest, a shop in Burlington. They occasionally sell honey from their own driveway in Glencoe as well.

The Company Shops Market is helping to promote locally-produced honey as well.

“Starting this Monday, our honey, as well as Mike Ross’s, will be on the shelves for sale,” Dill said.

The honeybee festival celebrated not only the importance of honeybees to everyday living, but the importance of buying locally-produced goods.

All throughout the Company Shops Market, signs that say "Pollinated by a Bee" are placed near products that wouldn't exist without the help of bees. Photo by Merissa Blitz.

“You are supporting a rural economy by purchasing locally-produced products,” Dill said. “For some individuals, that is their primary income.”

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