The Green Valley Beekeepers Association found itself needing a president earlier this year.

Jim Mason had only been a member a month when he assumed the title in March.

"Nobody wanted to volunteer and so they asked me, 'Do you want to do it?' Well, if nobody wants to do it, I'll try it," Mason said.

But Mason, who lives in Sorgho, has embraced the role and is on a campaign to grow the local organization while bringing more public awareness about beekeeping.

Mason keeps five wooden hives, painted in bright orange, yellow and white, in his backyard.

"Beekeepers and honeybees have a synergetic relationship. We respect them, and they tolerate us," he said. "We look after their needs and try to keep them healthy and productive, and if we are successful, hopefully, they will share a portion of their bounty with us."

Based in Daviess County, the Green Valley Beekeepers Association boasts about 65 paid members. None of the members, however, raise their bees within Owensboro because of an ordinance that prohibits hives within the city limits.

Neena Gaynor, a two-year member of the local association, lives in Owensboro but maintains six hives on a farm in Hancock County.

Gaynor said she comes from a family of beekeepers. She sells the honey she extracts from the hives and uses the beeswax to make candles.

"We just bought my son a beekeeping suit so we're about to have a fifth-generation beekeeper," she said. "…Beekeeping is one of those agricultural interests where you don't have to live on a big farm to do it."

The Green Valley Beekeepers Association has been around since the early 1960s.

One of the oldest active members is Mike Knott. He's been a member for about 40 years.

Knott said he's witnessed the ebb and flow of beekeeping during his tenure in the organization.

"It comes and goes in cycles," Knott said. "What happens is that everybody gets in it and finds out it's a whole lot of work and you get stung. Then that's when they decide it's not for them. But when they come in and stay for a while, you know they're going to be true beekeepers instead of beehavers."

Brothers Jerry and Henry Morgan are also members who have 14 hives between them.

Jerry Morgan said it was his son-in-law who pulled him into beekeeping about six years ago.

"I know I kindly got interested in it because of the shortage of bees you heard about a few years back," Jerry Morgan said. "…What we try to do as an organization is to promote the environment and teach more about keeping bees."

The Green Valley Beekeepers Association is planning what it's calling the Kentucky Honey Expo on Sept. 21 inside Owensboro Community & Technical College's Blandford Hall.

Mason said the event will be geared toward beekeepers and those interested in becoming beekeepers across the commonwealth.

"At first, it was just going to be the Owensboro Honey Expo," Mason said. "And then at our meeting last month, we decided, instead of just having a local or regional exposition, to make it broader and go statewide to attract members from all over the state of Kentucky as well as the tri-state area, too. This is the first time it's been done in Owensboro. We're trying to increase awareness of beekeeping and encourage more people to get into it. We're also promoting local honey as opposed to what you might find in a grocery store and you don't know what's in it."

The Green Valley Beekeepers Association meets on the first Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the Daviess County Extension Office. For more information about the group call 270-230-6171.

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer, 270-691-7299

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