Beekeepers abuzz at local show and tell

Members of the Merrimack Valley Beekeepers Association, a nonprofit of more than a hundred professionals and enthusiasts, presented show-and-tell sessions on both days of the 39th Fall Festival hosted by Beaver Brook Association in Hollis.

Veteran beekeepers Isabelle Burke, of Merrimack, and Ellen Walker, of Hollis, met with crowds on Sept. 28-29. The BBA, founded in 1964, is devoted to conservation education and natural resource preservation. More than 2,100 acres of land, replete with hiking trails, plus nature programs and year-round activities, dawn to dusk, attract some 15,000 visitors each year.

Walker and Burke offered a vivid look at the science and art of beekeeping – apiculture – to many among the more than 2,000 festival attendees. The ladies displayed equipment, hive boxes, honeycomb, poster-sized photos and bee suits.

“Young children were especially fascinated by honey bees,” said Walker. “Some future entomologists may have been on site.”

Related festival activities included a petting zoo, a seminar on hawks, raffles and apple cider pressing. Vendors of wares including maple syrup found buyers. An art show, “Scene Outside,” featured nature-themed works from regional artists.

The bee talk audience learned that honey bees help pollinate around 80 percent of the world’s plants including 90 food crops. A pollinator garden designed this year by Nora Miller, of Hollis, at BBA’s Maple Hill Gardens offers bees rich sources of nectar and pollen. Two acres of pollinator plots are planned.

Spencer Lovette, of Mont Vernon, president of the MVBA, commended Burke and Walker for promoting the importance of sustaining honey bees and other pollinators. Fellow members Mike and Diane Mattock, of Hollis, also were on site as festival volunteers.

Oil painter Chris Volpe, of Hollis, was the featured artist of the Scene Outside art show. His work is nationally acclaimed in art magazines and exhibited in galleries. He credited all the artists who shared their work at the show.

“Artists celebrate nature and share its beauty,” Volpe said. “This inspires us to preserve the habitat of all creatures, especially bees.”

Burke and Walker offered gardeners counsel on plants that attract pollinators. Oregano, white clover and rosemary are favorites. In addition, lavender, aster and sage are sure draws for honey bees, bumble bees, mason bees and others that in their travels take pollen from blossom to blossom and thus enable the fertilization of fruits, veggies, flowers and more.

“We thank everyone at BBA for giving us the opportunity to share our beekeeping experiences,” Burke said. “It was a pleasure to talk to so many interesting people in such a beautiful location.”

More information on the Merrimack Valley Beekeepers Association and its monthly meetings, mostly on the first Saturday of the month in Merrimack, can be had online: MVBee.org. Access BBA info online: beaverbrook.org.

– Submitted by MVBA