What’s buzzing, 10 years of beekeeping – The Globe

WORTHINGTON — While the buzz may have died down over the winter months, Worthington resident Myron Meyer has invested heavily in his beekeeping hobby over the past decade.

Entering his 11th year, Meyer has learned a great deal about honey harvesting, beekeeping and bees in general – knowledge he passes on enthusiastically as someone who has been interested in beekeeping for much of his life.

Myron Meyer holds a transparent box labeled MGM Honey, with a honeycomb inside.

Tim Middagh / The Globe

“I’ve always been interested in bees because my dad had them in the 1950s,” Meyer said, before sharing that some of those same hives his dad had are still in use today, over 60 years old. later.

Meyer was around 12 when his father started beekeeping. In the spring Meyer’s father would set up beehives in a nearby grove, and in August and September he would go out and collect honey.

“We didn’t have an extractor back then,” Meyer recalls of the honey-making process. “So the only way out of the honey was in the kitchen at home.”

Meyer’s mother used to separate the wax at home on their stove by boiling what was removed from the hives, until only the honey remained, which was then put into jars.

Although Meyer’s father gave up beekeeping when Meyer left high school, his own interest persisted. In 2011, while at Worthington’s Pioneer Village, Meyer visited a booth set up by someone who owned bees. They got to talking and Meyer decided it was time to get into the bee business.

“If you want to get into the beekeeping business, you need to have someone you can rely on for information,” he said.

For Meyer, that meant getting involved with the Northwest Iowa Beekeeping Club, where he took beekeeping classes and gained much of his information. He spent time learning about what he was getting into and buying the necessary equipment. Once everything was set up, Meyer purchased her first bees from B&B Honey Farm in Houston, Minnesota in April 2011.

He started with three hives, each housing a queen bee and 3,000 worker bees. By the end of that summer, Meyer said he probably had between 80,000 and 100,000 bees in each hive, along with the three queens.

a hive box, labeled "2"with bees near an opening at the bottom.

Meyer had between three and twelve hives throughout his beekeeping tenure.

“There will only be one queen in the hive and she can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day,” Meyer said. “Worker bees, they will only live about 45 days. The queen will probably live for two years.

At this point, the queen must be replaced, which costs around $60 – with no guarantee that the queen will survive, which Meyer said he had.

“It’s not a cheap hobby,” warns Meyer. “You’re talking about $600 just for the equipment and the bees will cost you about $200 then.”

That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your hives, Meyer said. He checks his at least every 10 days to make sure the queen is still laying eggs and everything in the hive is healthy.

In the 10 years of beekeeping, Meyer has had as many as 12 hives – a number he says is way too much work. While commercial honey producers are likely to have over 1,000 hives and ship them around the country, Meyer is happy with the nine hives he currently has in his care and even plans to reduce them to two over the course of of the next two years.

bee S3.jpg

“I’m 80,” Meyer said. “I do this as a hobby…I’m starting to find that I can’t do the job that needs to be done with (the hives).”

In the summer, Meyer takes the hives and places them throughout Nobles County, in areas with lots of wildlife and flowers. Then, usually around the first or second week of August, when the bees have finished their own harvest, the honey extraction process begins.

“When you harvest your honey, you need to make sure you leave 70 to 140 pounds of honey in the existing hive,” Meyer said. “They use it during the winter to survive… So you can’t take all the honey. Normally I get around 30-50 gallons of honey per year depending on how many hives I have there.

Meyer removes the frames – called honey supers – from the boxes where the bees store honey and removes the wax plugs from the honey cells. He then uses an extractor to remove the honey from the cells inside the frame. He has three granddaughters who come to help him during this process, and afterwards the honey is potted and ready to go.

Meyer and her three granddaughters stand around a cylindrical honey extractor.

Meyer’s three granddaughters help him during the honey harvesting process.

“I give most of the time,” Meyer said. “I’m not here to make money. It’s a hobby…it just gives me something to do.

In September, all the hives are taken back to Meyer, where he puts up a wind barrier to protect the bees and encases the hive before winter sets in, leaving only a few openings for ventilation.

“Bees are alive all winter long,” Meyer said. “They move around the house. They don’t hibernate. What they will do is form a cluster…and that cluster will move to where the honey is.

In the center of this group is where the queen is kept. The other bees keep her warm and protect her throughout the winter once temperatures start to drop below 50 degrees, Meyer said. As long as they have enough honey, most bees survive.

There is a lot of work that comes with beekeeping, and a lot of things to be aware of. Meyer said it’s important to be aware of all the different diseases and pesticides that can affect bee colonies.

“Really,” Meyers ends, “it comes with years of experience.”

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