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July 11, 2014

Minding their own beeswax

Beekeeping group talks about importance of the insect

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —

The Southeast Kentucky Beekeepers Association members are willing to take a few stings if it means preserving one of nature's most valuable insects.

“Without the bees we wouldn't be living as long,” said JoAnn Bailey, wife of the association's president Bruce Bailey.

The beekeepers association is aimed at stressing the importance of bees, and increasing the knowledge of just how important they are.

“Everyone needs two hives of bees,” said Bruce Bailey, who pointed out that two-thirds of the food we eat comes from fruits, vegetables and seed crops that are pollinated by honey bees. Some of the fruits include apples, peaches and strawberries.

Bruce Bailey's grandfather kept bees, and five years ago he introduced his son Doug Bailey into the beekeeping hobby.

“It was scary at first,” said Doug Bailey, who also stressed the importance of bees, as well as the importance of getting more people interested in bee preservation. “We need to get younger generations involved.”

The beekeeper's association also aims at decreasing negative stereotype about bees.  

“They're not as aggressive as people think they are,” said Doug Bailey.

Rather than aggressive, bees actually act as competent teammates with one another according to association vice president Terry Sizemore.  

“Every bee has a job,” said Sizemore. The jobs include duties like collecting pollen from flowering plants and bringing the pollen back to the hive.

The Bailey's keep eight hives at their house. Each box can contain up to 100,000 bees, the vast majority of which are female.  

Bees are a female dominant species, featuring a larger-sized queen bee at the head of the hive. The queen bee spends most of her time reproducing, laying up to 2,000 eggs a day. She will mate with the male bees, referred to as 'drones.' Once the drones have served their purpose, they are cast out, and the cycle repeats.

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