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What’s the buzz?

Alaina McDonald talks about bees during the Atmore Public Library’s adult reading program last Wednesday. | Andrew Garner/Atmore Advance

Alaina McDonald talks about bees during the Atmore Public Library’s adult reading program last Wednesday. | Andrew Garner/Atmore Advance

Alaina McDonald loves bees — a lot.

McDonald is the assistant beekeeper at Hadley Apiaries, a bee farm in Pine Grove, which is between Stapleton and Bay Minette.

McDonald was the guest speaker at the Atmore Public Library’s reading club meeting last Wednesday.

Hadley Apiaries is a family business that’s been in business for some 15 years. The apiary has 200 hives with 90,000 bees in each box. Her fiancé, David Hadley, is the apiary owner.

McDonald began her presentation by talking about the beekeeper suit, which is made of special material to help keep the bees from stinging.

“Scout bees are looking at the time to bite you,” she said.

McDonald said bees are only fed during the winter time.

“In the spring, the bees gather from the flowers to make honey,” she said.

Inside of each box, or hive, there are 10 frames.

In order to sustain a good honey production, the boxes are split every fall.

Splitting boxes means that the bees are given the task of raising a Queen, McDonald said.

“If it’s not successful, then the box of bees dies,” she said.

A good indicator of success is the strong smell of honey when the box is uncovered, she said.

One of the recent issues that have come up with bees is the decline of their population.

McDonald said she believes all chemicals should be banned for use to spray on flowers.

Another problem that is contributing to the decline of bees is that they aren’t vaccinated from disease.

In fact, McDonald said they’ll put medicine inside of the food (strong sugar water) canister to help the bees develop immunities.

“The medication helps protect the bees against bee mites,” she said. “Bees live by what is good for the colony.”

A simple solution of vinegar and soapy water would do the trick instead of chemicals, she said.

One of the many facts about bees McDonald educated the crowd was that bees are cleaners.

For example, if one were to set out a container of honey, the bees would find the honey and take it back to the box.

“The Queen will do a bee dance to tell the others how far away the honey is,” she said.

McDonald said bees have sensitive tracking and internal GPS systems.

McDonald said once the frames are collected for the honey, they’ll spin in a container that collects the sweet goodness.

Honey has many health benefits, including the prevention of cancer and heart disease, reducing ulcers and other gastrointestinal disorders, it’s antibacterial, anti-fungal, increases athletic performance and reduces cough and throat irritation, among others.

In addition, McDonald said besides selling honey, the apiary is able to use the beeswax from the frames for products, such as lip balm, furniture polish, etc.