With September kicking off National Bee and Honey Month, Terry Martin is all abuzz on bees as a third-generation bee and honey producer in Tallapoosa County.
“Bees are magnificent creatures,” said Martin, who lives in Alexander City. “For the love of nature and our ecosystem, I wish every household had a hive of bees.”
Martin, a Tallapoosa County Farmers Federation board member, has aided in the revitalization of the Tallapoosa River Beekeeping Association. He also serves on the Federation's State Bee and Honey Producers Committee.
An advocate for youth education on the importance of bees, Martin helped develop a presentation to educate fourth- and fifth-grade students at Dadeville Elementary about the life cycle of bees.
Looking through a glass frame, students observe bees as they develop from larva to adult. The presentation will be replicated in Alexander City Schools this year.
“My biggest goal is to educate people,” Martin said. “Honeybees are the No. 1 pollinator, and we need to educate the next generation on their importance.”
Alabama Bee and Honey Commodity Director Mac Higginbotham said bee and honey production has faced adversity in recent years, but has a bright future.
“Education is probably the No. 1 factor when it comes to having a successful hive,” Higginbotham said. “Honeybees are extremely unique. They face multiple stressors, and the best way to manage them is to have a good understanding of what the hive is telling you.”
Martin agreed bee and honey production can be challenging.
“Bees have a lot stacked against them,” Martin said. “Something as small as a moth can devastate a hive, and you always have to be prepared for diseases.”
Beekeepers are constantly learning something new about bees. Utilizing and applying this information greatly influences the success of a hive, said Higginbotham.
“The educational opportunities are endless. By learning more, you can save yourself and your hive a lot of stress,” Higginbotham said.
Reading books and staying up-to-date on the latest technology is an essential part of what Martin does to produce honey he gives to friends, donates to local fundraisers and sells at a few local farmers markets.
One of Martin’s highly successful hives produced over 600 pounds of honey in six years.
Honey can be found in various products from food to hand soaps. Its health benefits range from allergy relief to cold remedies.
“What goes on in the hive that allows bees to do the amazing things they do? God only really knows,” Martin said.