Perspectives Online

North Carolina chancellors become keepers of bees

Chancellor James Oblinger gets help donning his beekeeping gear from former state Sen. Fountain Odom (left).
Photo by Daniel Kim

What's all the buzz at the N.C. State University chancellor's residence? Chancellor James L. Oblinger and his wife, Diana, have become the owners of two beehives, courtesy of former state Sen. Fountain Odom, a Charlotte attorney and longtime beekeeper.

Odom presented beehives to UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor James Moeser and wife, Susan, and to the Oblingers in May. Both chancellors received two colonies of honeybees, along with all the equipment necessary to produce a hive of honey.

Oblinger's hives were provided by the apiculture program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Entomology Department. Odom donated the hives for Chancellor Moeser.

"We see this as a way of raising the awareness of the importance of beekeeping in North Carolina," Odom said. "Honeybees once thrived in the wild but are now under great stress by two parasitic mites that have decimated the feral bees and present a great challenge to the survival of domestic bees. The more folks we can encourage to become beekeepers, even with a few hives in their back yards, the better it will be for ensuring the success of this insect, which means so much to the survival of mankind."

Tar Heel honeybees produce approximately $12 million worth of honey in the state each year, but their most important contribution is pollinating essential food crops, adding approximately $100 million in value to the state's apple, peach, berry, melon, cucumber and other vegetable crops.

"The survival of the honeybee is vital to our agricultural economy," said J.D. Foust, president of the N.C. State Beekeepers Association. "I'm delighted that Chancellors Moeser and Oblinger are becoming beekeepers."

-Natalie Hampton