Dawn Rye | Writer
In the United States, bees add a value of about $15 billion or so to farmers every year because their work as pollinators ensures many crops’ survival. Bees are among the most significant animal pollinators in nature.
Local bee enthusiast Jake Lackas doesn’t consider himself a “beekeeper”; it’s purely to pollinate his garden and fruit trees.
Lackas grew up in Randolph, Neb., the “Honey capital of the world” based on the number of beekeepers per capita. His mom’s side of the family raised bees for a living, so he believed it was in his blood.
In high school, he recalled working for a beekeeper who taught him everything about working with bees and how hard the work can be at times.
“I enjoyed it when I worked with bees in high school and have always enjoyed dabling in new hobbies,” commented Lackas.
Lackas stated he has two hives that can weigh up to 80 pounds when they are full of honey and can hold up to 70,000 bees at one time.
“As long as I keep my hives at a number I can manage, once they are all set up, they are not much work at all. I enjoy seeing them working in my garden and on my fruit trees. It also makes me feel good thinking that maybe I am helping a little with something we all take for granted,” stated Lackas.
He has taken his bees to North Dakota (Clover Fields) and Texas during the winter to help them keep producing during the winter months. Now, he keeps his bees in South Dakota protected by the shelterbelt and provides them with enough honey to make it through the winter. He purchases his bees from a club in Iowa and a woman in Hartford. The trick to transporting them is at night; the bees are back from foraging and are nesting in the hive.
He said if people treat bees with respect, they won’t bother people and many times, he doesn’t even put on protective clothing when checking a hive. If a beekeeper is gentle with the bees and checks on the hive in the afternoon, most bees are out foraging. It comes down to just being comfortable around them.
How can people help the bees from being in trouble? Lackas explained a couple of things people can do to help the bees is to go easy on the chemicals they spray on their yards. Many consider the dandelion an eyesore in their lawn and do everything they can to get rid of it. Unfortunately, the dandelion is also one of the first sources of pollen for the bees after a long winter. He recommends people plant various annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs that flower at different times of the year. This makes sure the bees always have a source of pollen. Diversity is the answer when it comes to landscaping your house.
Several flowers and plants require pollinators such as bees, with fruit-bearing flowers and plants particularly reliant on such insects. Strawberries, apples, blueberries and several other fruit plants need bees to guarantee their pollination, making bees especially crucial for modern agriculture.