PICKENS COUNTY—Out of all the jobs, Charlotte Anderson’s might be the most unique.
Anderson recently became the first woman to achieve the status of Master Beekeeper, and was also named Beekeeper of the Year for the state of South Carolina.
“She is just an outstanding lady who has fulfilled the master beekeeping course. That is just a huge success within itself,” said Rhonda Durham, President of the Pickens County Beekeepers. “There were no women master beekeepers in the state of South Carolina, so she is our first. It’s a very hard course, and it is very difficult to complete.”
Anderson says she was honored by the recognition she received in July.
“Every association chooses a Beekeeper of the Year, and I was surprised to be chosen (for Pickens County) in 2011 and again in 2012,” said Anderson. “I was shocked. They selected me based on the fact that I ran my business on my own, managed my bees on my own, and that I was the first woman to achieve the master level beekeeping.”
Durham says the biggest service Anderson provides is education.
“She creates awareness of beekeeping, and just tries to get out there and spread the word,” said Durham. “Even if you’re not a beekeeper you can help. If you see a swarm in your yard, don’t automatically kill them. Call someone to come collect them, because every honey bee that goes by is important.”
Anderson even offers classes to increase knowledge of beekeeping in the area.
“She helps out with the Hagood Mill, doing different presentations to help spread the knowledge of beekeeping,” said Durham.
Anderson says bees are necessary for everyday life.
“To the average person, the pollination factor that the bees contribute is the most important thing,” said Anderson. “It’s not just about pollinating big crops like apples and melons, but it’s about having enough bees in your neighborhood to pollinate the home gardens. Everyone is becoming more interested in growing their own food, and without having enough bees around to pollinate the garden soil, they’re not going to get good crops.”
Durham says bees make up about 80 percent of pollination.
“Beekeeping across our state and our country is very important,” said Durham. “It accounts for about 80 to 85 percent of our pollination. We have to have bees to pollinate our crops or we won’t have vegetables to eat. It’s very important to keep people interested in beekeeping so that we will have the bees to pollinate crops.”
Spreading the word about bees is just part of Anderson’s job. The hard part is getting out in the fields and doing the dirty work
“To me, the worst part is that some of the hard work has to be done in the summer when it’s hot,” said Anderson. “Beekeeping has changed. We have had new pests and new diseases that have come in from all over the world. For most people now, you have to educate yourself and learn how to keep your bees healthy and alive.”
As for the question that is probably looming in your mind. Yes, she has received quite a few stings in her time as master beekeeper.
“People will come in and say, ‘Have you gotten stung?’ and my answer is always, ‘not today, yet,’” said Anderson. “I will be out in the bee yard for two or three hours, then come back to the house, get in my truck, grab the steering wheel, and grab a bee.”