Buchanan business offers beekeeping class

Published 4:30pm Thursday, April 26, 2012

Honey bees are yellow. They fly. They sting.

That’s about the extent of knowledge most people have about bees, according to Phil Hempel, owner of Blossomland Bee Supply in Buchanan.

Hempel has been in the business of bees for better than 30 years and has been teaching beekeeping classes for the past eight years. He is quick to tell you there is a lot to learn about our honey-making friends.

Landyn Reava, 6, and brother Brady, 10, of Buchanan help unload packages of bees at Blossomland Bee Supply. Their parents Glen and Jenny brought the boys along to pick up their new bees thinking it was an excellent science lesson. The family, which began beekeeping last year, took lessons this spring and are looking to add three additional hives to their established colonies. Submitted photo

For one, honeybees play a large role in the success of area fruit farms. Farmers often bring in bees to pollinate their fruit trees, resulting in a better-quality product.

“The ones that do not get pollinated and need it — like apples — the fruit does not set or does not set well. The fruit doesn’t come out with the high-quality flavor,” Hempel said. “With good pollination, the grade of the apple is improved.”

Approximately one third of all the food Americans eat is directly or indirectly derived from honey bee pollination, according to the American Beekeeping Federation. Some crops pollinated are apricots, cherries, apples and blueberries.

Hempel said they even help in the pollination of strawberries, which are generally thought to be self-pollinating.

“With honeybees, you produce a much better, tastier crop. The flavor is better,” he said.

This week, Blossomland Bee Supply received a shipment of more than a million bees from a supplier in Georgia. Bees are placed into three-pound packages containing a queen, attendant bees and approximately 10,000 worker bees. Blossomland will be getting its final supply of bees May 8.

Blossomland will be holding a beekeeping class for beginners from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at its business, 311 W. Front St. in Buchanan. Cost is $45 for up to two people. Registration is recommended, but not required. Register online at blossomland.com or by calling (269) 695-2510.

“We’ll take you from knowing nothing to having a good foundation of information on the honey bee, how to get bees, what to do when you get them and how to go about beekeeping,” Hempel said.

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