In recent years, Haywood County’s honey bee populations have grown tremendously. According to an interview with Haywood County’s Extension Director Bill Skelton, there are roughly 3,000 hives in Haywood County alone. Honeybees have faced many hurdles like CCD (colony collapse disorder), varroa mites, and lack of pollinator friendly plants in this area, so it is great to see local citizens becoming more involved in helping one of our most important pollinators! However, as Haywood County’s number of beekeepers increase, so does the demand for specialized honey extraction equipment that the beekeeper needs to have a successful honey business. Most hobby beekeepers in Haywood County struggled when it came extraction time because of their lack of proper equipment and adequate space.
In 2015, Haywood County Cooperative Extension, in partnership with the Haywood County Beekeepers Association, proposed the idea of creating a honey extraction facility that would contain all the necessary items a beekeeper may need in the honey extraction process. With the help of a $16,550 TVA grant from Western NC Communities through Southwestern NC RC&D, the project was underway. The facility was created inside of an old summer camp bathhouse located at the Mountain Research Station. “This grant money allowed us to purchase all new lighting, air conditioning, doors, and brand new extraction equipment for our county’s beekeepers. The reason behind this project is to get our county’s beekeepers to expand their operations!”, added Skelton when being interviewed about the project. After the building’s updates were complete, new equipment was installed. Some of the equipment includes a twenty-frame radial motorized extractor and a chain comb uncapping device. This uncapping device is used to remove the wax seal that bees place over the honey cells and can uncap both sides of the comb in about ten seconds! Once the frames (the wooden apparatus that holds the wax) have been uncapped, they can go into the extractor. The facility’s extractor can hold twenty standard honey frames which will yield about fifty pounds of honey.
Since the facility has only been open for a year, only a few members of the Haywood County Beekeepers Association have put it to use. Tyree Kiser, beekeeper and Haywood County native, was eager to talk about how this facility has helped him. “This facility has been so helpful to Haywood County and its beekeepers! Before, I had to set my equipment in my basement that wasn’t equip for all that I was doing with my hives. Haywood County beekeepers are very fortunate to have this wonderful facility!” Since the project was grant funded, for the first year any beekeeper will have free access to this facility. After the first year, there will be a fee to use the facility but members of the Haywood County Beekeepers Association will be provided a discount.
For more information about this facility, please contact Haywood County Cooperative Extension at (828)-456-3575. For more information on local beekeeping, visit the Haywood County Beekeepers Association’s website at www.HCBees.org.