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May 13, 2013

Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced today a workshop designed for new beekeepers. The Beginning Beekeepers’ Workshop is part of the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center’s homestead learning series, classes that teach skills for independent, sustainable living. Its goal is to provide a strong foundation of knowledge to those interested in starting their own apiaries, either for pleasure or potential profit.

“The honeybee is the only insect that provides food for human consumption,” say the workshop’s organizers, “but its most estimable value lies in the pollination of fruit and vegetable crops throughout the country.”

The first of two sessions will be held May 28, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center. The second all-day session on June 1 will be at the Catawba Sustainability Center.  The fee for the 12-hour workshop is $100 and includes a popular beekeeping book as well as lunch during the second session.

Topics include the history and biology of the honeybee, necessary start-up equipment, pests and diseases, laws and regulations, African honeybees, pollen and nectar sources, and information on how to harvest honey.

Increasing the honeybee population in southwest Virginia is one goal of the workshop. Josh Nease, manager of the Catawba Sustainability Center, stated that colony collapse disorder continues to decimate commercial beekeepers’ hives across the United States. “Introducing more of these very important pollinators will yield benefits not just for the beekeepers, but for our entire region,” said Nease.

Instructor Mark Chorba, also known as the “bee whisperer of the Roanoke Valley,” has kept honeybees in Roanoke, Floyd, and surrounding areas for the past 20 years. As a certified Virginia Beekeeper, Chorba has taught hundreds of new beekeepers throughout southwest Virginia. He is the 2013 president of the New River Valley Beekeepers Association, currently the largest beekeeping association in Virginia.

Online registration is open until May 21. Click here for information to contact Josh Nease by e-mail,, or at  540.553.2311.

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