‘Beginning Beekeeping’ kicks off Bartow Lawn and Garden Seminar

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Continuing to promote the “art of beekeeping," Victor Halbgewachs will kick off the 2017 Bartow Lawn & Garden Seminar series. Set for Tuesday, the Cartersville resident’s “Beginning Beekeeping” presentation will take place from 7 to 8 p.m.

“I am a second generation beekeeper learning the art of beekeeping from my father, Harold Halbgewachs. Dad’s first hive was a birthday gift given to him in 1926,” Halbgewachs said. “His bee operation grew to include his four sons working 5,000 hives of bees. In 1983, I bought hives from Dad and worked my bee business of 1,000 hives in Georgia and Florida. I stopped keeping bees commercially in 1994 and am now engaged in my cottage bee business at Cartersville, Georgia.

“I am a migratory beekeeper. So through the year I move my bees to other areas. They are in deep south Georgia for the winter, taking advantage of the warmer winter and earlier spring; I move them to Bartow County for the early summer to collect honey; [and] I move farther north in mid- to late summer for later honey crops, like to the mountains for sourwood honey.”

Seeking to provide information for each seminar attendee “to make an informed decision to start beekeeping,” Halbgewachs will highlight basic beekeeping equipment, from protective gear to starter honeybees.

From personal experience, Halbgewachs also recommends prospective beekeepers — and established apiarists — to join area clubs. He is the vice president of the Bartow Beekeepers Club, which meets the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Olin Tatum Agricultural Building’s Stiles Auditorium, 320 W. Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville.

“Bartow Bee Club started some 15 or more years ago to help local beekeepers learn how to be better keeping their bees,” Halbgewachs said. “I am a charter member. In today’s world of keeping bees it is very hard to keep our bees alive and healthy mainly due to the varroa mites and the viruses they bring into the hives.

“The club provides us the opportunity to learn from each other. If someone is just starting in beekeeping, I think it is a must for them to be part of a club or have a mentor. There is just too much to learn by yourself.”

Referring to Halbgewachs’ beekeeping expertise, Bartow County Extension Coordinator Paul Pugliese said he will “bring a wealth of knowledge” to the upcoming seminar.

“Interest in beekeeping has been steadily increasing over the last several years,” Pugliese said. “This is likely the result of public concerns over the decline of native bees and other pollinators. One of the best ways to protect our pollinators and improve their numbers is to become a hobby beekeeper. We need more beekeepers and native bee habitat to increase our local bee populations and improve the genetic diversity of bees. It’s interesting to note that honeybees are not native to North America, and yet, our modern agricultural crops are highly dependent on honeybees for pollination.

“Late winter is the perfect time for beginning beekeepers to take classes and learn the basics of hobby beekeeping. This is also a great time of year to start acquiring all the equipment and supplies you will need to care for a new hive this spring. One new hive with bees and basic equipment costs about $200. Several local beekeeping clubs in Georgia offer classes for beginning beekeepers this time of year. The Georgia Beekeepers Association website has a directory of all the local bee club chapters in Georgia at www.gabeekeeping.com.”

He continued, “Victor Halbgewachs will bring a wealth of knowledge about beekeeping to this seminar. He grew up in a commercial beekeeping family and has been keeping hives and teaching others about bees his entire life. In fact, Victor has helped start some of the local beekeeping clubs in northwest Georgia and has served as president of the Bartow Beekeepers Club for many years.”

Conducted in the Stiles Auditorium, the Bartow County Master Gardener Extension Volunteers’ Bartow Lawn & Garden Seminar series highlights a wide range of topics each year.

Following “Beginning Beekeeping,” the offering will include “Organic Gardening” March 7 from 7 to 8 p.m., “Growing Herbs” April 4 from 7 to 8 p.m., “Pet Safe Gardens” May 2 from 7 to 8 p.m., “Landscape Design Made Simple” Aug. 1 from 7 to 8 p.m. and Holiday Wreath Making Workshop Nov. 18 from 9 to 11 a.m. or 1 to 3 p.m. The series also will feature the Northwest Georgia Gardening Symposium Feb. 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Chattahoochee Technical College in Acworth.

“The Bartow Lawn & Garden Seminars officially began in 2011 after I started working for Bartow County,” Pugliese said.

“Each year we provide a series of free seminar topics that address some of the more common questions and samples we receive through the County Extension office. Some of the more popular seminars are on topics specific to vegetable gardening and lawn care as well as related hobbies, such as backyard birds, composting and wreath making.”

For more information about the Bartow Lawn & Garden Seminar series or to preregister, visit http://www.caes.uga.edu/extension/bartow, call 770-387-5142 or email uge1015@uga.edu.