LUMBERTON — With all the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair has to offer — fried food, fast rides and family fun — its roots remain in agriculture and farming.
Keeping those farms blooming is one local group that was looking to pollinate interest in its hobby at the fair Tuesday, the Robeson County Area Beekeepers Association.
On Tuesday, relative newcomers Donna and Al Freeman were manning the booth promoting the honeybee agenda.
“There is a shortage of bees … this is our way to try and contribute to increasing the population,” Al said.
The booth was among a number of attractions at the fair Tuesday, including cheerleading contests, a comedy hypnotist, the towering, human-manned Rockit the Robot and, of course, plenty of food and rides.
With worldwide concern being voiced about diminishing numbers of the vital insect, beekeepers see their efforts as helping to fight the good fight and increase bee populations.
The Freeman’s got into beekeeping to help their garden, to be more efficient in farmland, and to be more self-contained, but also as believers in the medicinal qualities of honey, Donna said.
“You can put it on burns, wounds,” Al said. “If you have allergies in a certain area, if you get honey from that area, it can help.”
Though there are ancillary benefits to keeping honeybees, the sweet, golden treat is a big reason many want to keep the pollinators on their farm or in their backyard. Though it ranges greatly, it is estimated that a single hive can produce 30 pounds of honey a year, according to the Robeson County Area Beekeepers Association.
As first-year beekeepers, they are not expecting to get any honey from their three hives this year.
“The honey they make the first year, they need that to survive the winter,” Al said.
“The next year they have to make the comb, they do more work the first year,” Donna said.
If you are interested in keeping bees of your own and reaping the sweet rewards, the Robeson County Area Beekeepers Association meets every third Tuesday of the month for — as the group puts it — fun and educational insight into the world of honeybees. The meetings are at 7 p.m. at the O.P. Owens Agriculture Center at 455 Caton Road in Lumberton.
The fair opens today at 4:30 p.m., with a few admission specials. Attendees 62 and older can get in free all day, as well as students with a current year college ID. Children can also get in free with a school coupon.
Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @MikeGellatly