Editor’s note: Gimme 5 is a five-question interview about a topic of local interest.
Who: Ruth Forsgren.
Talks about: “Beekeeping 101.”
When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Beaver Creek Reserve, S1 Highway K, north of Fall Creek.
Cost: $40 for Friends of Beaver Creek members, $45 for nonmembers. Registration is required by Wednesday.
Information: beavercreekreserve.org or 715-877-2212.
Where did the idea for this event come from?
This is really an idea from the Chippewa-Eau Claire Beekeepers Club. They started a class as an intro to beekeeping, but as that evolved it was evident that people wanted to learn more about bees than just the beginning basics.
They wanted to learn about how to harvest honey, how to start a hive, how to set up bees for winter. It was too much to teach all in one class. So now we teach it in stages.
How many beehives are there at Beaver Creek Reserve?
We have two hives here at the reserve. The beekeeping club maintains a hive outside here and we have one inside the (reserve) building too. That one is inside a glass container so visitors can watch the bees.
Bees have been dying in recent years as scientists struggle to determine the cause of the die-off. Is interest in bees at Beaver Creek up these days?
There is definitely an uptick in the interest in beekeeping recently. You’re seeing more ordinances being passed allowing beekeeping in town.
It’s at least partly driven by people wanting natural foods and sugars, and honey is a natural sugar.
People are interested in why bees are dying out. It’s something they want to talk about.
We do get people who ask about hive collapse. There are people who are concerned about that.
What do bees do in the winter?
Bees don’t hibernate during the winter. They are awake.
They tend to form a ball of bees, with the queen in the middle.
It happens slowly, but the bees in the middle slowly move toward the outside so the ones who are outside and get cold can rotate toward the middle.
The queen remains in the middle all the time as the other bees protect her.
What do you hope participants in a beekeeping class learn?
We want people to have a basic understanding of bees.
The class teaches the basics of getting started caring for bees, costs associated with beekeeping, the amount of time involved and what equipment you need. It’s another one of those cases of letting people know where their food comes from.
— Julian Emerson, reporter