News Broadcaster Has Sweet Spot For Beekeeping

Broadcaster Has Sweet Spot For Beekeeping

Broadcaster Has Sweet Spot For Beekeeping
September 10, 2020 |

By Dennis Sherer

A popular west Alabama broadcast meteorologist has one honey of a hobby.

About five years ago, Richard Scott asked Tuscaloosa County Extension Agent Neal Hargle for help in boosting production of his fruit trees. That set in motion what soon became a sweet spot for apiculture.

“Neal recommended I get a beehive,” Scott said. “He told me how to get started and put me in contact with beekeepers in the area.”

At first, Scott, chief meteorologist at WVUA-Channel 23 in Tuscaloosa, was apprehensive about placing a colony of honeybees in his home orchard.

“I’ve always been scared to death of bees, but I realized bees were the remedy for the low yields from our fruit trees,” he said.

That first hive led to another…and another. Scott now has 50 hives spread around Tuscaloosa County. Each colony produces 50 to 100 pounds of honey annually.

In addition to a more fruitful orchard, Scott has plenty of honey for personal use, plus gifts for family and friends and even some to sell.

“The bees have turned into a nice little business for us,” he said.

The orchard and apiary are a family hobby for Scott, wife Tara and sons Parker and Grayson. 

“Tara and I started the orchard before we had children,” he said. “We wanted a fun hobby we could use to teach them about food production and the ecosystem. Then the bees came along and are now a big part of what we do. The boys love the bees and often go along with me when I’m working with the bees. It has been a learning experience for all us.”

Scott’s hives are filled with bees collected from swarming colonies or those that took up residence in unwanted places.

“People are always calling me to remove bees that have made a hive in the wall of their house or in the attic or under the floor,” he said. “A lot of people have heard me talk about my bees on TV, so they call me when they have bees they want removed.”

Just like experienced beekeepers who helped Scott start his hobby, he now enjoys introducing others to apiculture.

“Beekeeping is a rewarding hobby for the beekeeper, for the farmers in the area and for the environment,” he said. “We need more people to take up beekeeping.”

Scott said a good starting point for those interested in beekeeping is their local county Extension office. Extension agents can answer many questions about beekeeping and recommend local beekeepers willing to help newcomers. YouTube is a good source for how-to videos about honeybee culture and care, he added.

The Alabama Farmers Federation’s Hunter McBrayer said hobby and full-time beekeepers are essential to production agriculture. 

“Bees and beekeepers play an important role in food production,” said McBrayer, the Federation’s Bee & Honey Division director. “Eighty percent of flowering crops, including peaches, apples, pears, blueberries, squash, pumpkins and melons, are pollinated by bees. That’s one-third of the American diet.”

September is National Honey Month. The observance, initiated by the National Honey Board, promotes beekeeping, the importance of honeybees and the use of honey as a natural sweetener and health aid.

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