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“Apiary” is the new buzz word

“Apiary” is the new buzz word

ESCC is now home of the State Apiary Unit Diagnostic Lab

Written by: Michelle Mann, Dothan Eagle


ENTERPRISE — An “apiary” is a place where bees are kept, and Enterprise State Community College can now add that designation to its resume.

ESCC is now home of the State Apiary Unit Diagnostic Lab where students gain hands-on practical experience performing diagnostic and research techniques through a partnership with Auburn University College of Agriculture, the Auburn University Bee Lab, and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

“The agricultural scientist does the work that makes the world work,” said Ed Howard, ESCC Math Instructor and Division Chair, as he and ESCC Biology Instructor Ashley Snellgrove met with representatives from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries and Master Beekeeper Richard Woodham to talk about the progress of the new research lab on the campus in Enterprise.

Bee populations have been on a decline and researchers have scrambled to discover the cause, Woodham said. “If bees were to die out completely, one-third of our food supply would be lost.”

A queen bee lays between 1,500 and 2,000 eggs every day in her hive which can hold as many as 60,000 bees. With varroa mite infestation common, developing one super hive per site risks loss of all bees if infestation occurs, explained Britteny Allen, ADAI Apiary Inspector Supervisor. “Where several colonies face the same environment, healthy colonies can be bred to produce progressively stronger bees.”

Woodham said the bee could be the second insect to have a positive economic impact on the Wiregrass area, the first being the boll weevil, which prompted farmers to switch from growing cotton to growing peanuts. While peanuts don’t have to be pollinated to produce, other fruits and vegetables do, he said. The quality and output of cotton can also be improved through bee pollination.

Woodham worked with the Enterprise City Council to formulate an ordinance allowing beekeeping inside city limits and he initiated contact with Howard about the feasibility of adding bees to the curriculum at ESCC.

“We met with Richard Woodham and things took off from there,” Howard said. Howard said he and Snellgrove had a shared commitment to bringing the academic classroom into real world experiences for their students. “We recognized that the challenges of agricultural scientists demand rigorous academic training coupled with relevant practical experience,” he
said. “At ESCC we provide the first two years of a world-class transferable education and our partnership with AUCOA allows students that are academically successful in our agricultural programs the ability to transfer all course credits earned here directly to Auburn University.”

“I can truly say that this is the best thing that has happened in my life in education,” said ESCC Sophomore Carolina Rodriguez about her experience in the apiary lab and her plan to transfer to AU to major in wildlife ecology and management. “I had no idea
that I was interested in bees, but I definitely know now that I want to continue.”

Howard said the college is working to develop a Division of Agricultural Sciences. “Our real objective is that we want to see our first student from ESCC get their PhD from Auburn,” added Woodham. “We will not consider that we have experienced a suc-
cess until that happens in some agricultural science.”

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