Damon Howell / Photo
Matt Kinzer, left, and Bill Norris of the Appalachian Beekeepers Association of Georgia do a routine check of the beehives at Talking Rock Nature Preserve. The club checks the hives every seven to 10 days. A grant will allow them to build an outdoor classroom near the apiary in an ongoing partnership with the park.
What’s the buzz at Talking Rock Nature Preserve? Mountain bikes whizzing by? Yes, that; but park leaders are also thrilled about a grant from the Georgia Beekeepers Association that will enhance their apiary with an outdoor classroom.
“The investment we received from the Georgia Beekeepers Association will support building an outdoor classroom that will be used for beekeeping classes, support Scout group visits and programs, [a] shelter for visitors and volunteers, and other nature-based community activities,” according to a statement released by Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land, the non-profit that owns and manages Talking Rock Nature Preserve (TRNP) and other nature preserves and parks in the region.
The existing apiary (an apiary is a collection of beehives) is located in the “pollinator field” area of TRNP. It has educational signage, and pollinator plants and avian-supportive elements that include a chimney swift tower, bat house, butterfly box, and an owl box.
Bill Norris of the Appalachian Beekeepers Association of Georgia, who initiated the grant application to the Georgia Beekeepers Association through the local club, said the new outdoor area will be in the area of the pollinator field near the chimney swift tower. The $5,000 grant will allow them to construct a 16’x20’ covered area. This will be phase one of the classroom, with future plans to add electricity and other features. Plans are to begin construction within a month. Discussions are underway with a local contractor at this time.
Additional plans are to continue planting pollinator-beneficial native plants, identify plants and trees with educational labels, as well as invasive plant removal.
Funding from the Georgia Beekeepers Association comes from the Save the Honey Bee license plate, a project the organization spearheaded and had approved through the state. Plates became available in 2019. When motor vehicle owners purchase a Save the Honey Bee license plate GBA gets $22 of each sale to fund educational programs, grants, training, and other projects that support honeybees, pollinators, native plants, and more. GBA has already sold enough plates to pay off the $25,000 they spent for plate manufacturing fees.
The Talking Rock Nature Preserve apiary is named after Bud Champlin, founder of the Appalachian Beekeepers Association of Georgia. The apiary project began in February 2018 and was named in 2019. Norris joined the Friends of Talking Rock Nature Preserve, a volunteer group that helps with management and park improvements, when it formed. He pitched the idea of pollinator fields and apiaries at TRNP. Over the next few years local and commercial beekeepers made donations of several hives/equipment that were placed at the park. At one time there were 19 hives. That number fluctuates depending on the year, Norris said.
Learn more about Talking Rock Nature Preserve at www.stpal.org and on Facebook.
Learn more about the Georgia Beekeepers Association at gabeekeeping.com, where you can also find information about Save the Honey Bees license plates.
Visit Appalachian Beekeepers Association at pickensbeekeepers.com or on Facebook.