by Lisa Tome
Dozens of people made a beeline for the Rising Sun Branch Library on Thursday night.
They were all abuzz about the Beekeeping 101 program.
Suzette Jackson of Port Deposit, a beekeeper for a dozen years, was at the branch to share her craft.
Jackson explained that she is a hobbyist, and said she is by no means a master beekeeper. Jackson got involved in beekeeping after her husband saw a newspaper advertisement for a beekeeping class. "He said 'I think you should take this'," laughed Jackson. So she attended a class in Harford County provided through Maryland Extension.
"After a six week course, I was hooked," said Jackson.
She started using her hives for honey. That evolved into creating beeswax hand creams, lips balms, and candles.
"You can do it in your backyard. You just need a good size backyard," she said.
She said the creatures are not as dangerous as one might expect.
"In my 12 years, I've been stung maybe 10 times," she said.
She doesn't really consider them pets, but they are a part of her life. Working a hive can take up to 90 minutes at a stretch. "I feel bad when I lose them. They're an important part of the life cycle," she said.
Mother nature has an impact on the hives as does environmental issues, Colony Collapse Disorder, and the use of pesticides.
Jackson successfully maintained up to eight hives at once each containing about 80,000 bees.
"It's fascinating. I always learn something new. I'm still learning new things," she said. "The last few years have been a struggle."
She is also active with the Susquehanna Beekeepers, an organization which provides educational programs and mentoring for beekeepers.
While presenting bee programming allows Jackson to meet new people, the beekeeping gives her some quiet time.
"Nobody bothers me when I'm out there (at the hives)," she said.
Lilly Chaika traveled from Chesapeake City to hear Jackson speak.
"I just think it's an amazing little creature," said Chaika. She also has an interest in honey.
Craig McQuitty of Conowingo was at the library hoping to learn tricks of the trade. McQuitty is planning to be a beekeeper.
"I'm trying to learn as much as I can so they don't die," said McQuitty.
Jason Sneddin of Port Deposit is considering beekeeping. He said he wanted to learn about the impact of beekeeping on his children and on lawn care.
Lois Meszaros of Port Deposit, said she is concerned because she heard that bees are disappearing. "I want to learn what is going on and why they're disappearing," said Meszaros.
Jackson said beekeeping classes cost $50-$60. The start up cost which includes hive frames, a smoker, veil, and coveralls, is about $300.
For more information about beekeeping on the internet, visit the website www.susquehannabeekeepers.com.
The organization includes about 170 members from Cecil and Harford counties as well as Baltimore and Pennsylvania.