By Nicole DeCoursey
Bee keeping wasn’t something that Jeffrey Lang, Ammerman campus director of admissions could see himself pursuing. But, when Lang’s father, Herman, died four years ago, Jeffey said he felt it was a way to stay connectedwith him after his passing.
Herman was an immigrant from Germany where this was a popular pastime, and for as long as Lang could remember his father always “kept bees.” This pastime involved the whole family. Lang’s mother, Marjorie would collect empty jars from all around the neighborhood and when it came time to collecting the honey, his mother would sterilize the jars and have them waiting. Lang and his father then could collect the honey they had been patiently waiting for.
His father kept three hives when he was younger. Lang now only has time to provide and keep up with one, but he explains that keeping bees is not time-consuming like many may think.
“I only open the hive once a week, and this is only to check to see if the hive has what are called hive beetles. Hive beetles destroy the wax of the nest,” Lang said.
To prevent hive beetles, he uses a technique called sugaring. It involves placing powered sugar on the hives to help the hive stay disease free. When mentioning how much honey he collects from his hive, Lang states, “A healthy hive can produce up to 100 pounds of honey.” This seems to be a lot of honey from what looks like nothing bigger than a basketball.
Lang, who seemed to know everything there was about beekeeping, referred to himself as a “bee farmer”, and explained the importance of each bee. Three bees live inside the hive. Male bees known as drones, female bees, and the queen bee all live together.
Lang noted that you can buy bees through the mail, and he said he and his father received bees all the time.
“The box would look like a small jewelry box and would state “caution: live bees” on the outside of the box,” Lang said.
For those who would like to purchase bees, Lang offered a helpful website: http://www.draperbee.com/beesupplies/Package_Bee_Prices.html
It is important to know exactly the jobs of each bee because it helps your hive grow and produce healthy honey. Both the male and female bees are known as worker bees, but Lang then states that as far as bees are concerned, “it’s a woman’s society.” The male bees are only in the nest to fertilize the queen bee, and once they do what they are there to do, the other female worker bees push them out of the nest.
“They are cast out to be eaten or destroyed by birds.” This is when you see bees swarming around a hive; this is actually what is happening to the drones. Lang also explains that bees may be smarter then everyone may think. He explains that the bees only go to one type of flower each day.
“ It’s the way they buzz so many times in one direction that experts say tells each bee which flower they will collect from for that day,” he said.
Bees are more intelligent than many may know and after meeting with Lang, his experience with bees will help me not to automatically swat a bee off. After all, they’re sweeter than you think!