Honey Bee Expo attracts more than 200 people

PARKERSBURG – More than 200 vendors and guests turned out for the annual Honey Bee Expo and beekeeping school presented Saturday by the Mid-Ohio Valley Beekeepers Association at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

Teresa Wagoner, coordinator of the show, said the event had 220 guests and 50 vendors and speakers despite the cold and icy weather that hit the valley Saturday.

Wagoner said several classes were offered covering a variety of topics from making and using products from the hive to maintaining the health of a hive. Some of the presenters offered more than one class.

David Rectenwald, owner of Rectenwald Farms in Kenna and a West Virginia master beekeeper, taught two classes on how to get started for the year and also discussed past, present and future problems facing the industry, what beekeepers are being told and who is telling them what they are hearing.

“We got into theories of what is coming up as far as diseases, infestation of parasites and some of the things the weather and climate control people are doing that may affect our bees,” he said.

Rectenwald said diseases in bees are nothing new.

“There have always been problems with disease,” he said. “For the past 150 years different diseases have hit and nobody has been able to say what is was until after it was over.”

Rectenwald said the most recent problems have been from parasites and problems with unknown chemical or agents causing bees to die or disappear from a colony.

“Colony collapse disorder has been a problem but it is beginning to lose some of it momentum,” he said. “It began back in 2005 and it was a mystery.”

Some of the suspects are new chemicals and pesticides that come out through the plants and genetically modified plants.

“Right now the theory we have is a pharmaceutical problem with genetically modified proteins they get from the plant, chemicals brought in and things beekeepers have used to treat other problems leaving trace elements in the hive,” he said. “The combination is like getting one drug from one pharmacy and something else from another without telling them what you’re taking and they interact.”

Rectenwald said another theory is the protein and vitamin mineral values in the soil is declining as more and more farms are growing the same products over and over.

“They are actually burning the soil up,” he said. “Our bees are not getting the protein and mineral value they need to keep the hive free from diseases.”

Charles Walter, of Walter’s Wholesome Goods of Shepherdstown, W.Va., was at Saturday’s expo to present two classes. One was a candle-making class using wax produced by the bees and the other was a class on making creamed honey.

Walter said he and his wife are involved in beekeeping on a sideline.

“We are part-timers, called sideliners,” he said.

Walter said he has been working with bees 34 years, starting when he was 12. His wife got involved after they were married. They make a variety of products outside of candles and creamed honey from their beekeeping.

“We have liquid pure honey, lip balms, hand lotions, comb honey and cut comb,” he said. “We are diversifying our offerings and increasing our streams of revenue.”

Walter said the creamed honey has just two ingredients, honey and honey.

“You just get a starter which is another pound of creamed honey which will guide the process,” he said. “You just whip some air into it.”

Walter said to start it requires a variety of honey that will crystallize smoothly.

“Then you could go ahead and grind the crystals and once you get that you can go one forever,” he said.

Walter said the top product is honey followed by candles, which is a byproduct.