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Fort Smith nature center offers sweet seminar on honeybees

BY Randy Zellers

ON 02-07-2018


Feb. 7, 2018

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

FORT SMITH – The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center will host a special introduction to beekeeping at 1 p.m., Feb. 10 to teach visitors the basics on setting up and maintaining a healthy honeybee hive on their own.

The program will be presented by Danny Brewer, an apiary Inspector for the Arkansas Plant Board and member of the Western Arkansas Eastern Oklahoma Beekeepers Association, which meets regularly at the nature center.

“I got my first hive back in 2010 and managed to catch a swarm that year,” Brewer said. “Then I had three hives, then seven. It’s become an added joy to watch the bees work.”

Brewer says beekeeping became attractive to him as he was learning about homesteading.

“I retired out of the military and began homesteading, but my gardens really weren’t producing as well as I thought they should. My father said I should get a beehive to help,” Brewer said. “Not only has my gardening really improved, but the honey produced by the hive offers even more benefit.”

Brewer says he’s held some classes before on beekeeping, and many people don’t even know what sort of questions to ask to get started. This class is the perfect class for anyone interested in the basics.

“There are a lot of people who will buy beehives and bees at a big box store without knowing what to do, and they get discouraged when the hive doesn’t work out,” Brewer said. “In this class we’ll cover how and where to place the hives, good sources for bees and some of the laws regarding beekeeping that many people may not know about.”

The class also will cover the costs of getting set up as a beekeeper and some of the intricacies of maintaining a healthy hive on your property.

“I’ve sat in on a few of these classes, and the amount of knowledge you can get about beekeeping is amazing,” said Kelly Mulvihill, facility manager for the AGFC. “You really learn about some of the threats honeybees have in the wild, and why it is so important to do what you can to protect them. Pesticides, herbicides, invasions from native and non-native predators can all take a toll on a hive, so getting a good background is important before you try to create a hive of your own.”

Mulvihill says many of the practices that are beneficial to honeybees also are beneficial to other pollinators, such as Monarch butterflies and hummingbirds.

“They’re all a small part of the complex web that makes up our natural world,” Mulvihill said. “So anything you do for one species may have impacts on the rest of the whole system.”

Admission is free, and registration is not required for this seminar, but other beekeeping seminars are scheduled soon to take participants into construction of their first hive and obtaining the proper bees for their needs. Visit to learn more or check out the nature center’s Facebook page at


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