PICKENS — Since ancient times, there have been depictions of human beings tending to beehives.
Tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs show workers blowing smoke into hives and removing honey while traces of beeswax have been found in pot shards all over the Middle East dating as far back as 7000 BCE.
While it might seem like a lost art, beekeeping is still alive and well, even here in Pickens County.
The Pickens County Beekeepers Association has announced a series of classes introducing newcomers into the inner world of apiculture — beekeeping.
“If you have ever wondered about the workings of a colony of honeybees, the PCBA has just the class for you,” said Cyndi Banks, president of PCBA. “We will be offering an introductory beekeeping class this spring.”
According to Banks, the classes will cover all of the information needed for anyone interested in getting into beekeeping.
“I first began keeping bees eight years ago with this very same class,” Banks said. “I was working as a horticulturist and I thought that learning about the pollinators, like bees, just made sense. I’ve come full circle, so to speak.”
Banks, who considers herself a “hobbyist,” has four hives in her back yard and produces honey mostly for friends and family.
“There’s a lot of health benefits to be had from local honey. It’s different than what you would buy at the store,” said Banks. “I work part time at Bee Well and we have people that come in just to treat their seasonal allergies.
“You see, honey that’s made locally contains the local pollens,” she continued. “I don’t have allergies myself, but people swear by it and you can’t get that from big commercial honey at the store. A lot of it’s (commercial honey) pasteurized. When you heat honey, you lose all the good things the bees have done — it kills the enzymes. That stuff at the store is nothing more that liquid sweetener.”
When asked how often she’s been stung, Banks laughed.
“Bees have much more work to do than to sting you. They’re born to work. Besides, they don’t want to sting you. If they do, they die,” she said. “I mean, I have four hives at home and my neighbors have never had any problems. My husband mows the grass around them and they just go around him. My dog has been stung, but honestly, she looks like a bear. You can’t blame them for that.”
The first class session will be held at the Fellowship Hall of the Pickens Presbyterian Church, located at 311 West Main Street, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 30.
The cost of the class is $50 per person and includes course materials and a textbook. Youth 14 and under (accompanied by an adult) can take the class for $25 per person. Those completing the class can take an examination to become a beekeeper certified by the South Carolina Beekeepers Association.
Registration also includes membership in the Pickens County Beekeepers Association, whose members offer support and mentoring to its members.
For more information and to receive registration forms, contact Cyndi Banks at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for registration is Jan. 23.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.