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Doug Trattner explores the buzz behind beekeeping

Beekeeping 101: The buzz behind the trend

With the push to get outdoors more often, there’s been a bump in beekeeping interest. So we ask the expert about the hype behind it, and how anyone can get involved.

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Ann Cicarella has been a friend of mine for many years, after she became my bee mentor. Yes, I did keep bees…well, it’s probably better to say I HAD bees, because they didn’t stick around very long. But that’s besides the point.

With the push to get outdoors more often, there’s been a bump in beekeeping interest. So I asked Ann about the hype behind it, and how anyone can get involved. When it comes to anyone picking up the pastime, Ann says its possible as long as someone can devote time to it.

“I do think it takes time, but if you had one hive, well I would say you’d probably be spending, maybe an hour a week” she estimates.

You cant turn on the news without reading about the colony collapse disorder, or a lack of bees. Colony collapse disorder is defined as the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen, according to the EPA. We asked Ann why this is happening so rapidly right now.

“I mean, you do see a lot of habitat loss, which is why everyone is being encouraged so much to plant a lot of native plants, and plants that have a lot of good pollen for bees,” she says. “And not just perennials but trees. Maple trees are some of the first trees that bloom and produce a lot of pollen for bees.”

Another way to stop the spread of colony collapse disorder is just to spread awareness about beekeeping and how to be kinder to the insects when you’re outside.

We also did a general bee hive inspection with Ann, to show anyone interested in the hobby the basic, need-to-know information on how to get started.

She showed us a honey super, which is each component of the boxes you see honey bees housed in. 

Honey Super: A box in which 8–10 frames are hung. Western honeybees collect nectar and store the processed nectar in honeycomb, which they build on the frames. 

Each super has to have just enough water content, that the bees mostly suck out of the nectar, in order for honey to be made. Ann says there is a very precise measurement.

“For us to have honey, you want to have a water content of about 18% or lower, because bacteria cannot grow where water content cannot grow,” she explains.

If anyone wants to learn more about the beekeeping hobby or process, Ann offers classes where participants will observe a frame of bees and see, eggs, larvae, capped brood, pollen, nectar and capped honey, watch a baby bee hatching, and taste honey right from the hive.

To arrange a time with your group of up to 10 people, please contact: Ann Cicarella at ann.cicarella@gmail.com.

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