08/17/14 — Big crowd turns out for National Honey Bee Day

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Big crowd turns out for National Honey Bee Day

By John Joyce
Published in News on August 17, 2014 1:50 AM

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Eleanor West, 4, makes her own beeswax candle by dipping a weight on a string into hot wax and cooling it by dipping in water. Children lined up to make candles, get their faces painted and to get honey bee tattoos on their hands or arms at Waynesborough Park on Saturday.

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A member of the Neuse Beekeepers shows his hive to spectators on Saturday at Waynesborough Park.

Hundreds of Wayne County residents joined The Beekeepers of the Neuse in Waynesborough Park Saturday to celebrate National Honey Bee Day.

Families came out to enjoy tractor rides, face painting, candle-making, a chicken coop and goat pen, and of course to observe the honey bees in action.

Beverly Keen, a member of the beekeepers group, began keeping bees three and a half years ago.

"I just got interested in it and so I did it. I took the class," she said.

The day was spent encouraging those who might be interested in beekeeping to register for the upcoming beekeepers class in January 2015.

Fellow beekeeper Tony Park, an airman assigned to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, said he was hoping to gain the interest of potential beekeepers from the base.

Restrictions on base might keep the residents there from being able to keep bees near their homes, but that shouldn't discourage anyone, he said.

Neither should the cost.

"There is a cost up front, starting up, but we encourage handling things locally," he said.

All of the beekeepers raise queen bees and hives that can be sold to new beekeepers seeking to start up a new colony, he said.

Mothers pushed empty strollers as fathers walked with kids atop their shoulders, pointing at the honeycombs and hundreds of bees visible through the observation glass of a cross-section of a beehive.

Beekeepers manned booths, made candles and answered questions, all while signing people up for next year's class.

The Wayne County Master Gardeners, too, were on hand, giving bees a habitat.

And Mac and Patty's Grilling Shack churned out plenty of food to keep the crowd buzzing all day long -- the even lasted from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In the shade along the wooden fence that lines the park, a man stayed cool churning homemade ice cream.

Jerry McGinnis isn't a beekeeper, but some of his neighbors and friends are.

McGinnis rolled out his 1923 International antique engine, which cranks up to 75 rpm's, mixing ice, salt and the hand-churned contents of his bucket, to produce ice cream.

"The first batch takes about 45 minutes. You put the ice in and pour the salt over it. The salt melts the ice faster and that's what keeps (the ice cream) frozen," he said.

Sheriff Larry Pierce, hearing this as he walked by, raised his hand to show off his cup of McGinnis' product.

"Best I ever ate," Pierce said.

Late in the day the tractor rides provided by Eastern Carolina Vintage Farm Equipment became a little less full.

McGinnis had to reach a little farther down into his bucket to scoop out his ice cream.

And the Master Gardeners had fewer and fewer seed packets to hand out to future gardeners.

There was no final count on how many signed up for the winter beekeepers class, but Mrs. Keen said she was happy with the number of folks who came out to support her group's cause.

"Wayne County is agricultural. Today is about being educational and informational," she said.