LINCOLNTON––You might say she’s the bee’s knees.
She’s local multimedia artist Stacey Pilkington Smith, and she has just published a sweet, little children’s book that’s all about honey bees. It’s Honey Bees: An A to Z Book, and as Smith explained this week, her grant-funded project was supported, amongst other groups, by the North Carolina Arts Council; the Arts Council of Lincoln County; and the arts councils of Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston and Rowan counties.
“I used the money to buy an Epson printer,” she added, “which allowed me to complete the book and make a dummy for publishers and a portfolio.”
Right now, Smith has two hives, and they’re ready for the cold-weather months ahead.
“One day,” she said, “I hope to have a TBH (top-bar hive) apiary to sell honey, which is a great commitment of time and money.”
You’ll go ape for apiarism. That’s a good, old Latin-derived word meaning “beekeeping.” It’s a honey of a hobby, with sweet rewards indeed. Former Gaston County district attorney Locke Bell of Cherryville and noted farmer Art Duckworth of Stanley are among the many local folks who enjoy being beekeepers.
Honey is more than just good on toast. It also has useful medicinal qualities, such as being a natural decongestant when you put a dollop in your nice cup of hot tea (mint, Earl Grey, Irish breakfast and other such black teas are best with honey). Honey has been used to treat colds since the days of ancient Egypt. And talking of Egypt, honey is so full of its own natural preservatives that jars of the stuff, thousands of years old, have been discovered in pharaohs’ tombs, and amazingly, that honey is still edible today.
Honey bees aren’t native to North America. They were brought here by English colonists in the 1600’s. All the wild bees you may see in your back garden are descended from these original English bees.
And you’re probably seeing far fewer bees than you did, say, 20 years ago. Disease and especially varroa mites and other pests have taken a grievous toll on North American honey bees. In fact, most bees in the wild are gone now, and if you see them in your backyard, odds are best that they come from the hives of nearby beekeepers.
Want to learn more? Buzz on over to the North Carolina Beekeepers Association Website at www.ncbeekeepers.org.
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