By BARBARA LANG
WOOSTER, Ohio — OARDC’s Fisher Auditorium was a proverbial beehive of activity March 2-3, with 1,043 in attendance on Saturday for the 34th annual Tri-County Beekeepers Workshop.
As the largest one-day workshop of its kind in the United States, the event featured something for everyone, with four breakout sessions featuring six different topics for levels, from beginners to experts.
There was also a full day of activities just for children, including one on learning to build native bee nesting boxes. Youngsters could choose from four sessions throughout the day in “The Brood Nest.”
Joe Kovaleski, a volunteer and Master Beekeeper from Steubenville was busy manning the registration desk.
“Last year we had nearly 1,000. Beside Ohio, we have folks from Michigan, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky and Minnesota,” he said.
Ed Block from Doylestown was also checking in the aspiring beekeepers.
“I went to the Wayne County Fair two years ago and went into the Grange building during a storm and discovered the Tri-County Beekeepers exhibit,” said Block, who attended his first workshop last year.
“I started with two hives in 2011 and both survived the winter.”
There was standing room only for Dawn Comb’s afternoon presentation on sustainable beekeeping. Her family lives and works on a 3.5-acre farm in Marysville called Mockingbird Meadows where they raise herbs and honey.
“Health is balance. Look at the hive as a whole, don’t just treat the symptoms of disease. If you have a healthy hive, you shouldn’t have problems,” Comb said. “Don’t use anything that isn’t natural in your hives. We have had 100 percent survival of our colonies over recent winters.”
Approximately 30 vendors participated, including the Ohio State Beekeepers Association, which promotes honeybees and supports the practice of beekeeping in Ohio through education and research.
“We are working on the Ohio queen initiative to create hardy stock that will survive Ohio conditions,” said Dana Stahlman, president. “We also offer the Ohio Master Beekeeping program.”
In the “hands-on room” Chris Merkle from Orrville was busy throughout the day demonstrating everything from building wooden frames and assembling wax foundations to uncapping honey and extracting the liquid gold.
The “Honey Recipe Contest” was once again popular with 63 entries in six categories from appetizers to desserts.
Next year’s workshop is scheduled for March 1 and 2, 2013.