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Jan 24, 2017 12:08PM

The buzz on beekeeping: What you need and where to find it


By Dylan Davis
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Beekeeping essentials, including clothing and equipment, are available at area Blain's Farm & Fleet locations.
Printed and digital copies of this image are available for purchase.  Digital delivery within minutes.  Click here for details.
Submitted
Beekeeping essentials, including clothing and equipment, are available at area Blain's Farm & Fleet locations.
Everybody loves Morgan Freeman, right? He's an actor who just keeps on giving, and he's got that voice that everyone seems to know. But do you know what one of Freeman's hobbies is? Beekeeping!

Since 2014, Freeman's 124-acre ranch in Mississippi has been a sanctuary for wild bees, and he keeps very close tabs on the project. We also have a handful of beekeepers throughout the Radish region, some of whom have been featured on these very pages. If you're looking for a new hobby for 2017, perhaps you could join the indomitable Morgan Freeman in the keeping of bees!

It's easier than you may think, and there are resources in the Quad-Cities and throughout the Radish region to help you get started. You can pick up the essentials at many area Blain's Farm & Fleet locations. (Check with your local Blain's Farm & Fleet to learn which products are available!)

"Blain's Farm & Fleet is very excited to have more hobby farming options," says Kristin Mickelson, public relations manager. "Beekeeping can be educational, fun, entertaining and, believe it or not, something for the whole family to be involved in."

Blain's Farm & Fleet partners with Miller Manufacturing and stocks a wide variety of beekeeping equipment. Products include "Beekeeping for Dummies," a useful launching point for beginners; beehive logs, feeders, smokers and extractors, as well as hive bodies, frames, strainers, gates and filters.

Of course, beginners also will need beekeeping clothing, including jackets, veils and coveralls, which Blain's Farm & Fleet stocks in a variety of sizes.

The impact of these tiny creatures is enormous, which influenced Freeman's decision to create a sanctuary for bees. News has circulated during the past few years about a massive dying-off of honeybees, with rates between 20 to 30 percent each year. This significantly can affect agriculture and the economy.

According to a White House fact sheet, "Honey bees enable the production of at least 90 commercially grown crops in North America. … Pollinators contribute more than $24 billion to the United States economy, of which honey bees account for more than $15 billion through their vital role in keeping fruits, nuts and vegetables in our diets."

Bees play "just as big of a role as any human does, if not more," Mickelson says.

"Bees are actually in danger, and if mankind doesn't step up, we can really be the ones losing out," she says. "If honeybees would become extinct, humans could be in that same danger within a seven-year span as well."

So, how does one actually get the bees? Blain's Farm & Fleet locations will take bee orders until Feb. 28, and live bees will be available for pickup on April 29 from stores in Dubuque, Iowa; and Morton and Woodstock, Ill. The stores also will offer a 20-percent discount on bee supplies and accessories, excluding live bees and queens.

According to a news release, once you've set up a hive, the bee colony constantly will work to pollinate, make honey and wax. For the keeper, just check on the hives for about a half an hour once each week, and collect the honey and wax twice each year.

Bees sold at Blain's Farm & Fleet are Italian bees bred in Georgia. The available packages are three pounds and contain approximately 10,000 bees.

"Beekeeping is not for everyone, but if you can't help by having your own hive, you could also do your part by growing wildflowers or leaving honeybees alone when you see them," Mickelson says. "They are too busy with their work to bother you, so if you leave them alone, they will do the same to you."

Before you invest in bees or beekeeping equipment, make sure to consult your city ordinances to verify that you are allowed to have beehives on your property.
Dylan Davis is a regular Radish contributor. For more information from Blain’s Farm & Fleet or Miller Manufacturing, contact Eric Lamberg, at elamberg@ffinstore.com; or Jason Wildung, at jwildung@miller-mfg.com.




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