Local bee enthusiasts are inviting the public to celebrate National Honey Bee Day next week at Bowman Museum

Photo Credit: KEVIN SPERL  - Richard Nichols examines a frame in one a hive owned by Andy Schutz

On Aug. 11, Prineville's Honey Bee Mentoring Partnership will celebrate National Honey Bee Day at the Bowman Museum.

The partnership is an effort by Prineville's Richard Nichols to build a strong honey bee population in Crook County.

"The idea is not to have a club or an organization, but a group of people who work together like old farmers used to," he said. "We are trying to build a bee culture specific to Crook County."

Operated under the auspices of the nonprofit, Pennsylvania Apiculture Inc., the theme for the national campaign is "Sustainable Gardening Begins with Honey Bees."

According to the organization's website, the theme was selected to appeal to the backyard beekeeper.

"While the bee industry is vital to large agriculture that feeds much of the world, reality is that 98 percent of all who keep bees are backyard beekeepers,” the website states. “Most of them are in towns, cities, suburban areas, and not on traditional farms.”

Nichols said the local honey bee population is strong.

“They are doing really well,” said Nichols. “Our biggest problem is predators, and I just lost a hive to the kingbird.”

Despite that problem, Nichols said his hives are doing well, and that he maintains four “super strong” hives.

For Nichols, it is all about using natural methods and staying away from chemicals that he feels, in the long run, weakens hives.

“We want to make the bees as strong as they can so they resist mites and disease on their own,” he explained. “Using materials such as essential oils, which mites can’t handle, is one way of accomplishing that.”

Nichols is proud of the fact that he can remove honey from his hives and eat it right away, something he attributes to his adherence to the application of natural methods.

But, in order to keep the honey bee population strong, Nichols is looking for commitments from other local beekeepers to help out as part of the partnership.

“We have a list of 19 people that have shown a lot of interest,” he said, “But people’s lives are busy and it’s hard to get them to participate as a group to help each other out.”

Nichols, along with fellow beekeeper Naomi Price, provides the lion’s share of the local bee support, but he warns that the day will come when the pair won’t be able to help as much.

Nichols hopes that the upcoming celebration at the Bowman Museum will generate interest.

Nichols is especially excited to have professional photographer Debra Hollern, of Bend, for the event on Monday, Aug. 11.

“She has taken pictures of bees we have never seen before,” said Nichols. “Her photos are absolutely incredible.”

In addition to Hollern, Price will give a talk on life from the bee’s perspective, educating people on what honey bees do for the environment and what is required to provide them a healthy environment.

“Everyone has the picture of the beehive as a toaster, and can just put them out in the yard and take the honey out in the fall,” said Nichols. “It isn’t like that. It is very labor intensive to have honey bees.”

National Honey Bee Day will be celebrated at the Bowman Museum on Monday, Aug. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m.. The event will offer a wide variety of information regarding honey bees and beekeeping.

There will also be a photography exhibit by photographer Debra Hollern.

For more information, call Richard Nichols at 541-447-7907.

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