Photo by Steve Bracci
Thirty-five years ago, Wayne Hunsucker fell in love—with bees.
For most of his career, Hunsucker has served in churches and counseled families. But come 5 o’clock or the weekend, Hunsucker will most likely be found with a cup of coffee in hand, sitting next to his hives and enjoying the sight and sound of his bees.
It’s been that way ever since a friend introduced him to the hobby. “He pulled out a frame of bees and handed them to me,” he says. “I had them in my hand and began to understand what’s going on in that frame and the hive, and I was enraptured.”
My day job: Counselor
Annual honey harvest: About 100 pounds
Number of bees: Up to 90,000
Most times I’ve been stung: 24
One word that describes me: Kind
My philosophy: Watch and pray.
One thing people don’t know: I’m actually very quiet inside.
May is the heart of the honeying season, what beekeepers call the flow—when bees are busy at work gathering nectar and sealing it inside wax honeycombs to evaporate down into sweet, sweet honey. Despite Augusta’s moniker as the Garden City, it’s actually a challenging place for beekeepers, says Hunsucker, who works to locate his hives near heavy growths of tulip poplar or holly, both excellent nectar sources.
Come fall, it’s time to harvest and every year he pulls out a frame and holds it to the sun, sticking a finger into the honeycomb and enjoying that first rich flavor of the golden syrup. “I let that honey run down my hand…and then I ask God out loud, ‘Is that what you mean by [a land] flowing with milk and honey?’” he says. “It’s my way of saying, ‘Thank you God, you have provided.’”
Every year, family and friends also know to expect gifts of the harvest—and he’ll get regular calls, “Wayne, you got honey?” As for Hunsucker, he most enjoys his honey in coffee, slathered on biscuits, on toast or granola or Grape-Nuts—“Oh God, it’s just amazing,” he says.
If the taste is transcendent, it’s because the experience of beekeeping is so as well, when the natural world hums and thrums about him. “It’s very spiritual,” says Hunsucker. “Beekeeping is an attitude. It’s a quietness of heart, a quietness of mind a quietness of spirit... Twenty minutes sitting by the hives—that’s the definition of peace to me, just listening and watching them fly.”
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Spot a Bald Eagle
Take a peep at one of Georgia’s most famous couples—a pair of bald eagles at Berry College. The northwest Georgia school is live-streaming an on-campus eagle nest, 24/7, giving the public an often-unseen view into the private life of this protected species.
To get your peek, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/BerryEagleCam
LOCAL PLANT SALES are a great way to discover new plant varieties for your garden or landscape.
McCorkle Nurseries Giant Plant Sale
The family-owned business sells more than four million plants annually to customers across the Southeast. Many of them will be available during their hotly anticipated biannual plant sale, offered every spring and fall.
Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
4904 Luckey’s Bridge Rd., SE
Pendleton King Park Pla Sale and Swap
While this event has become more of a plant sale, gardeners can still swap their plants during this popular annual event that’s been offered since 1997. Master Gardeners will also be onsite to offer gardening tips. It’s a cooperative effort of the Pendleton King Park Foundation, the CSRA Master Gardeners and the City of Augusta Parks and Recreation Department.
1600 Troupe St.
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Aiken Master Gardener Spring Education Day and Plant Sale
Enjoy a farmer’s market atmosphere plus a plant sale, advice from Master Gardeners, demonstrations, vendors and speakers discussing topics including “Growing Tomatoes” and “Fire Ant Control.” This event is held in conjunction with the Aiken Farmers Market.
8 a.m. to noon.
Williamsburg Street (between
Park and Richland avenues)
(803) 649-6297 ext. 122
For Lisa and Benjamin Kessler, owners of White Hills Herb Farm, the heady scent of lavender permeates their days and scents their dreams every April through October. Georgia’s only commercial growers of the delicate purple herb, the Kesslers started with a test garden five years ago and now manage a five-acre farm with cultivated herb gardens, a pecan orchard, wildlife areas and a farm store.
Starting in May, the public can indulge in the farm’s beauty as it opens to the public every Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Ever wanted to learn how to make your own herb-infused oil or tea? Visitors can watch culinary demonstrations, enjoy a self-guided tour, picnic with a boxed farm lunch or dinner, or shop ready-made, farm-fresh teas, herb vinegars, dried herbs, oils and the farm’s signature lavender bundles.
The farm even offers private workshops (Kessler will design a class around a group’s interests.) and is also available for small weddings. To find out more, call 706-595-5081 or visit www.whitehillsherbs.com.
Teach Your Children Well
Healthy food from the ground up!
Kristina Williams remembers sitting at kids’ birthday parties and seeing children eating brightly colored chips and other junk food. And it wasn’t just a one-time thing. With diabetes and obesity on the rise, even in children, she knew something had to change. “It just terrified me about where they will be at my age because of the things they’re eating,” she says.
To change the cycle, she wanted to introduce children to healthy food, from the ground up. Williams was already a local volunteer and founder of the Benderdinker kayak/canoe festival, which supports Augusta Locally Grown, Georgia Regents University’s Camp Sweet Life and Savannah Riverkeeper. She launched Benderdigger last year as a related program to teach youth about slow foods—locally sourced and wild foods.
Every Monday evening from May to October, Williams and Kim Hines (organizer of Augusta Locally Grown) teach Benderdigger participants about seeds and pests, how to build a bed and grow plants, even how to forage for edible plants in the wild and the benefits of bees. (Last year’s class where kids donned beekeeper suits and tasted wild local honey was a favorite!) The season ended with children harvesting and helping to prepare a Thai-inspired dinner, which they served to their parents.
While last year’s inaugural program was limited to children in the River Island subdivision, this year Williams has opened Benderdigger to the public. Class sizes are limited to 20 maximum and there is a small
fee to participate.
To find out more, visit www.benderdigger.com.