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  • Beekeeping helpful to county’s economy even now

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    Location.  Process.  Storage.

    Those are sweet words for anyone who wants to be a successful beekeeper, according to area apiarist Richard Edwords of Kamps Propane.  
    He’ll be selling honey at the Queen Bee Brunch on Saturday, June 23, at the Alpine Community Center, 1830 Alpine Blvd. The celebration of local honey history includes shopping, a fashion show, mimosas and more from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    The Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce and the Alpine Community Center are presenting the party and commemoration of beekeeper John Harbison, internationally-known  Alpine area honey producer starting in the mid-1800s.

    “Raising honey is all about location, how it’s processed and how it’s stored,” said Edwords.  “I put my honey in glass containers, because honey can take on the flavor of plastic.  You’re actually eating plastic.”

    Location, he said, refers to where the hives are and where they’re gathering honey. Edwords and his partner currently have about 65-70 hives in a bee-friendly El Cajon area where the bees are able to gather food from backyard plants and wild flowers. “Most of the beekeepers in San Diego County are concentrating on pollination rather than honey,” Edwords said. That’s another way that bees sweeten the region’s economy.

    The County of San Diego has a Honey Bee Protection Program to maintain a thriving area economy and to protect residents from Africanized honey bees.  “The (trial) program was successful in the first two years, so it’s going to continue,” said Tracy Ellis, an entomologist with the county’s agricultural office.  According to the annual San Diego County Crop Report, agricultural values for 2016 were listed at $1,746,632,682. Apiary products had a value of $3,632,000 that year.  Beekeepers must be registered with the county if they have 10 or more hives in the unincorporated area. The annual registration fee is $10.

    Ellis said there are usually about 25,000 hives registered but there were 29,986 in 2017 with 239 registered beekeepers. “There’s a lot of beekeeping activity here in San Diego County even after all these years,” Ellis said.

    With a family tradition of being small honey operators, Edwords compared beekeeping to a hobby that pays for itself and maybe brings in a little extra cash.  
    For more information about beekeeping and registration, call 1-800-200-2337 or visit www.sandiegocounty.gov/awm/bees.html.

    Tickets for the Queen Bee Brunch are going fast at $40 each, but some are still available at the Chamber, 1620 Alpine Blvd., Suite 208; the Alpine Community Center; Dana’s Boutique, 2271 Alpine Blvd.;  Postal Annex, 2710 Alpine Blvd., Ste. K; at AlpineChamber.com and AlpineCommunityCenter.com; and at (619) 445-2722, (619) 445-7330, (619) 722-6785 and (619) 659-8082.