Doug Trattner explores the buzz behind beekeeping

With the push to go out more often, there has been an increase in interest in beekeeping. So we ask the expert about the hype behind it all and how everyone can get involved.

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio – Ann Cicarella has been a friend of mine for many years, having become my bee mentor. Yeah, I kept bees … well, it’s probably better to say I had bees, because they didn’t stay very long. But this is not the question.

With the push to go out more often, there has been an increase in interest in beekeeping. So I asked Ann about the hype behind this and how anyone can get involved. When it comes to anyone engaging in this hobby, Ann says it’s possible as long as someone can devote the time to it.

“I think it takes a while, but if you had one beehive I would say you would probably spend an hour a week there,” she reckons.

You can’t turn on the news without reading about Colony Collapse Disorder or the 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, a lot 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 quickly right now.

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

Another way to stop the spread of colony collapse syndrome is to simply educate the public about beekeeping and how to be kinder to bugs when you’re outside.

We also did a general beehive inspection with Ann, to show anyone interested in the hobby the basic information needed to get started.

She showed us some super honey, which is every component of the boxes you see honey bees in.

Super honey: A box in which 8 to 10 frames are hung. Western honey bees collect the nectar and store the processed nectar in honeycombs, which they build on the frames.

Each super should have just enough water for the bees to primarily suck up the nectar for the 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 around 18% or less, because bacteria can’t grow where the water content can’t,” she explains.

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

To arrange a meeting with your group of up to 10 people, please contact: Ann Cicarella at [email protected].

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