The Orange County Beekeepers Association is looking to inspire a younger generation of beekeepers.
Each year, two new beekeepers between the ages of 10 to 16 are selected to begin their beekeeping quest. Applications for the 2019 Apprenticeship Program are now being accepted, though the application deadline of Dec. 3 is quickly approaching. The applications will be reviewed and selected students will be notified by Dec. 31.
Partnered with a mentor close to their residence, the program aims to introduce young people to the practice and guide them to become successful beekeepers.
Not only are the selected students mentored, but they also have the opportunity to commit themselves to promoting beekeeping and the importance of pollinators in North Carolina by completing a rigorous program curriculum and schedule over the course of a year.
“It’s been fun to watch these kids blossom into decent, good, little beekeepers,” said Lisa Vogel, Scholarship Coordinator for Orange County Beekeepers. “Beekeeping is not an inexpensive hobby to start and we realize that it’s expensive for a young person to get involved in beekeeping.”
Since equipment is costly, the program was created to give local students access and a foundation to start what many consider a life-long hobby.
The apprenticeship program is a no-cost program and has a value close to $600.
Selected apprentices are enrolled at the OCBA Bee School at no charge, provided two beehives, two packages of honey bees, a beekeeper suit, all the necessary tools and accessories, and a one-year membership in the Orange County Beekeepers Association.
Last year, out of a small pool of applicants, two Chapel Hill students were chosen. Chapel Hill High School student Catherine Trusky and East Chapel Hill High student Megan Talikoff, both in charge of the bee clubs at their respective schools, were selected. Though these students were 15 and 16 at the time of their apprenticeship, Vogel recalls a proficient 11-year-old beekeeper who enrolled a few years ago. Now, he has expanded his amount of pods and has pulled his brother into the beekeeping fold.
This year, Vogel hopes to get the word out to students in both southern and northern Orange and to increase the number of interested and applying students.
Vogel has reached out to middle and high schools across Orange County, primarily science teachers, to commission interested students. She has also invited eligible students from Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and homeschooled students.
The application is simple, Vogel attests, but includes a short answer sections that usually encompasses the student’s interest and passion for beekeeping.
The review committee is seeking applications that demonstrate enthusiasm to learn and participate in all aspects of beekeeping; have an interest in animals, insects and/or livestock; possess the ability to work both corroboratively and independently; are highly motivated and responsible; and have the support of a parent or guardian.
Last year, Trusky and Talikoff went above and beyond, Vogel said, submitting elegant applications with an extended short answer.
“They came in and they said, even if they did not get the scholarship, they were going to become beekeepers,” Vogel recalled. “I’ve never seen two girls as motivated and excited about beekeeping as these two.”
Once selected, the applicant must complete all aspects of the program requirements, including remaining an Orange County resident throughout the program, properly caring for all equipment and materials provided by the OCBA, and staying in semi-regular contact with their beekeeping mentor.
The remaining requirements are set to foster knowledge throughout the process, enough to where the student can give a comprehensive presentation to the OCBA at the culmination of the program.
This presentation will take place at one of the OCBA monthly meetings and is a 10 to 15 minute summary of their experiences, observations and lessons learned during their one year apprenticeship.
The participant must also keep a journal documenting their beekeeping activities throughout the year, attend the OCBA Bee School and multiple OCBA monthly meetings, and volunteer for and participate in at least two public outreach events on behalf of the OCBA.
The OCBA Bee School is one night per week from January into the spring.
For more information or to apply, visit https://theocba.org/apprentice/.