Beekeepers ‘Buzzaar’ Celebrates National Honey Month

A bee approaches a flower to sample its nectar. (Photo by Renee Sweany)
A bee approaches a flower to sample its nectar. (Photo by Renee Sweany)

The seventh Beekeepers Buzzaar was scheduled for Sept. 23, 2017, but was preempted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Now, the return of pollinators to the island will be celebrated from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Agricultural Complex on St. Croix.

The event, hosted by the V.I. Agriculture Department and the St. Croix Environmental Association, is free with areas of interest and activities for all ages.

According to beekeeper Toni Downs, about 80 percent of the bees on St. Croix were blown away by the storms or starved. Last year plants re-grew limbs and branches and this year, they are beginning to blossom and supply nectar to an increasing bee population.

Jennifer Valiulis, SEA’s acting executive director, said a grant was received from Global Giving that is providing literature and education about caring for wildlife year-round, especially those that are vulnerable to hurricanes.

“It’s important while the hurricane is still fresh in people’s minds. I remember swarms of bees after the storms looking for nectar. We’ll try to give people an idea of what to do and items to include in their hurricane kits to protect wildlife,” Valiulis said.

Velda Hendricks, farm and satellite coordinator for the Agriculture Department has been helping line up vendors and encouraging the Education Department to send students to participate. There will be honey tastings for students including members of 4H who will educate and interact with the crowd.

“Beekeeping is important in our area and is a career in agriculture science,” she said, adding that more pollinated crops mean more value added products for beekeepers.

An observation hive will allow visitors a close up view of the way bees live. In our area, bees are responsible for pollinating fruits and vegetables, such as avocados, berries, melons, coconuts, cucumbers, guava, kenips, papaya, squash and melons.

Children will have an opportunity to create art projects with bees and Fresh Start, a Frederiksted-based art group, will supervise making bee watering stations and floats out of wine corks, so bees can rest while they have a drink of water.

In previous years, the vendors displayed innovative honey-derived items, many of which will be available for purchase this year: honey, soaps, beeswax candles, lotions and balms, pollen, candies, dressings, food and beverages. A vegan ice cream maker, Feel Ice Cream, will offer a frozen delight made with honey, according to Downs.

Downs said not only are professionals welcome, but honey hobbyists should bring their value-added products for judging, sampling and selling. Anyone who wants to learn the art of beekeeping will have a chance to talk to the experts.

Prizes will be awarded including a piece of jewelry from the Crucian Gold honeycomb collection.

The Global Giving grant will also be used for World Migratory Bird Day, Oct. 12 at Sandy Point. Along with a beach cleanup, activities will focus on viewing birds in their natural habitat. On Oct. 26, another beach cleanup is scheduled for SEA’s South Gate Reserve.