By MEGAN WALLACE, The Sun News
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (AP) — What first began as an interest in invasive insect species has led Clemson University Apiculture and Pollinator program coordinator Ben Powell into the study and care of bees as well as teaching the community the benefits of beekeeping.
“There are a lot of people that move into this area that are retiring and want a hobby. We get a lot of hobby beekeepers that have moved into the area. They’re trying to learn how to keep bees and the association has been integral for doing the trainings and making sure beekeepers know what they’re doing and that they’re successful,” Powell said.
Someone might wonder out of all the hobbies why a person would choose beekeeping, but when looking at the benefits to the environment and natural landscape it’s obvious.
Powell claimed beekeeping to be one of the most honorable agricultural traits in human history. He said that humans and bees have a special mutualistic relationship in which they will both benefit from each other. Humans get resources, products, and the pollination of their crops while bees are protected from pests and predators and are able to grow and flourish.
He said another trait of beekeeping that makes it more sustainable than other animal farming is that it does not damage the environment.
“You cause very little detriment to the land, in fact, you probably improve the landscape, bees, for the most part, are collecting their food from the natural landscape and then doing a service to the plants in the process,” Powell said.
However, honey is not the only useful product to come from beekeeping. Beeswax is also created during the pollination process and can be used for many things
Beeswax itself is anti-bacterial, hypoallergenic, and easily digestible. Online retail stores like Amazon and Etsy have begun selling reusable beeswax wraps that would create less plastic waste. Another way beeswax could replace a plastic product is on the fruits and vegetables sold to the public in grocery stores/
“Almost all the fruits and stuff are covered in a wax, beeswax would be a better way to do that because it’s digestible but it’s paraffin that’s used,” Powell said.
Powell stated the only reason this is not being changed is because paraffin wax is a product of petroleum, which is much cheaper to get than beeswax.
A member of the Blackwater Beekeepers Association, Powell calls himself a professor to the public. According to their website, the association’s main objectives are to encourage better beekeeping methods in the area and state, to maintain friendly and helpful relations with those companies which are working to better the beekeeping industry, and to do outreach through activities that tend to improve the general public’s knowledge relating to honey bees and the industry.
Powell will continue his research with bees at his office in the Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence.
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