Beekeeping 101

Beekeeper Christian Diehnelt checks one of the hives on the Meyer property

I have had the privilege of having bee hives on my land for the last 5 years. Two beekeepers, Roland and Christian Diehnelt, who are a father and son 5th and 6th generation beekeepers, take care of the hives placed on my land. In return, my family gets a portion of the organic, raw honey they produce. Today, they allowed me to help with their maintenance and check up of the 26 hives.


During their visit, they check to see the  success of each hive by first pumping smoke into the hive to calm the bees. They then pull out the frames and check for honey, new bee eggs and larvae, clip the queen’s wings, and add new “supers” (bee hive boxes). All worker bees seen in the picture are female and they are the ones out foraging. The males are called drones and about 20-30 of them get to mate with the queen.

Bees forage within a 2 mile radius of the hives. They collect pollen, their protein source, and also flower nectar, their carbohydrate. These are used to raise and feed young, as well as, provide a food source for the winter months. Many beekeepers have been dealing with a lot of different issues affecting their hives. You may have heard of colony collapse. My beekeepers (and beekeepers all over the country) have also been dealing with lots of dead hives thought to be caused by certain pesticides called neonicotinoides. But it is not just the European Honey Bee being affected. Many of our native pollinator populations have seen dramatic decline because of pesticides, disease, and loss of habitat. This is a big reason why planting native flowers and prairies is so important. In fact, we are planting an 8 acre prairie next week for a land owner as “pollinator habitat” (very heavy in flowering plants from May through October).

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