Generating buzz …

Posted May 21, 2013, at 4:30 p.m.
Beekeeper Peter Cowin of Hampden shows a swarm of bees. Once the queen is in the box the rest of the bees will follow.
UMaine Extension
Beekeeper Peter Cowin of Hampden shows a swarm of bees. Once the queen is in the box the rest of the bees will follow.

There’s a buzz in Penobscot County as the number of new beekeepers is on the rise.

Peter Cowin of Hampden, also know as “The Bee Whisperer,” said, ”The number of beginners taking up beekeeping is good news for honeybees that have been suffering from a variety of stresses as well as habitat and forage loss. It’s great to see so many new beekeepers starting up in the region. We’ve had so many in fact that we have had enough interest to start up The Penobscot County Beekeepers Association.”

This past winter Cowin was approached by the Orono and Hampden adult-education programs to give a beekeeping class.

“Peter Cowin’s Beekeeping for Beginners class was one of the most popular and well attended

classes that we offered this year,” said Matt Tardie, RSU 22-SAD 22 adult education director. The class will run again starting Sept. 25. We look forward to working with Peter again.”

Cowin said. “It was very pleasing to see such an interest locally in helping and keeping honeybees. The majority of my 40 or so students were keen to be involved with a local chapter of the Maine State Beekeepers Association, but the nearest one was a good drive away.

“That’s when we heard that Lincoln beekeeper, Gary Haynes, was talking to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension about getting some beekeepers together to start a local chapter. We teamed up, and the rest is history,” he said.

The Penobscot County Beekeepers Association welcomes any area beekeepers, or people interested in learning more about beekeeping. No experience is required. The group meets at 7 p.m. the last Thursday of each month at the Bangor Extension office at 307 Maine Ave., Bangor.

“It’s been exciting to see the range of experience levels within the group,” said Kate Garland, of UMaine Cooperative Extension.

“I see this group as a key to the success for many new beekeepers and a way for veteran beekeepers to learn from each other,” she said. “Just in the first two meetings, members have had the opportunity to ask a lot of questions and share their experiences. It’s very apparent that all of the more experienced beekeepers are eager to help budding beekeepers get off to a great start. “

Harold Swan of Swan’s Bee Supply in Brewer, and founder of Swan’s Honey, is known as the

grandfather of beekeeping in Maine. He has seen a real increase in beginners starting keeping bees in the area.

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