Doing Our Part: Union Power Becomes A “Bee Friendly” Partner - Carolina Country

There’s a lot of buzz going around about Union Power’s active engagement in our local communities, and this time is no different. In partnership with the Union County 4-H Beekeeping Club, Union Power Cooperative recently became one of the organization’s first “Bee Friendly” Partners to sponsor a child in 4-H Beekeeping.

The 4-H Beekeeping Club enables today’s youth to learn about bees and the art of beekeeping – helping to advance bee conservation efforts and empower communities with the education, tools, supplies, and bees needed to support sustainable agriculture in the area.

These partnerships give local children a hands-on learning experience, including putting together woodenware for the hives, starting a smoker, working hives, queen rearing, honey production, and lots more!

“We knew there was an interest and some public awareness, but we also wanted to get the kids who were interested in beekeeping and the community involved,” said George Hunnicutt, 4-H Club leader and Union Power member. “Since beekeeping was the first of its kind in N.C. 4-H, we also knew that we faced a few challenges with funding.”

The beekeepers came up with a creative idea for a new source of funding. They created the “Bee Friendly” Partners Program and invited local businesses and other bee supporters to “adopt a beehive,” as a way to teach youth about the important role bees play in agriculture, the different types and styles of beehives, the various parts and functions of bee colonies, and the roles of each kind of bee found in a hive. Sponsored beehives are decaled with the partner’s logo and are then housed at an apiary (a place that houses a collection of beehives) in Union County.

These partnerships give local children a hands-on learning experience, including putting together woodenware for the hives, starting a smoker, working hives, queen rearing, honey production, and lots more! Some youth can even go on to continue their knowledge of beekeeping by becoming a State Certified Beekeeper as part of the Master Beekeepers Program. Last year, one of the sponsored kids passed the state certification at age 9 to become the youngest certified beekeeper in the state.

“I think this is yet, another way for Union Power to do our part and show that we care about what’s happening in our communities. The benefits are two-fold – it allows us to spread our wings and help get kids involved and interested in beekeeping, and the agricultural benefits will continue to impact the people we serve in mighty ways for years to come,” shared Luanne Sherron, Union Power vice president of key accounts and government relations.

Bees play a significant role in the pollination of plants and other important crops, and beekeepers work to ensure their survival. The Union County 4-H Beekeeping Club hopes to continue to spread the word about the important work they’re doing and educate the community on the art of beekeeping. “Union Power Cooperative is much like other cooperatives by way of bringing power to rural areas in our state, and now, you are also involved in helping agriculture in Union County as well, whether farmers realize it or not,” Hunnicutt added. “Also…for quite some time, Union Power has been planting Hollies and other great pollinators as part of the landscape architecture designed to screen substations. So without even knowing it, you’re actually helping beekeepers like me, and I appreciate it.”

“The 4-H Beekeeping Club is an inspiration that projects outside of the primary goal of education. I see it as another potential partnership when we start our habitat creation projects. Forthcoming are site conversions to Monarch waystations and pollinator-friendly sites,” said Wil Ortiz, manager of the vegetation management department at Union Power.

As your local, not-for-profit, member-owned energy provider, we are working to strengthen the areas we serve through our support and commitment to educating our communities, and we are proud to be a part of a network dedicated to such a worthy cause.

If you would like more information on the “Bee Friendly” Partners Program, contact George Hunnicutt at 704-609-4788.

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