Beekeeping proves more than a hobby
Beekeeping is gaining in popularity, but it should be treated as a full-time job rather than a hobby, veteran beekeeper John McMinn said.
“You don’t just set them out there then come back four months later and take the honey off,” he said. “You have to work them all the time. It’s different today than it used to be.”
Beekeeping has become more than a job for McMinn over the years. It’s now a passion shared with his son and a granddaughter, who attends Ohio State University to become a master beekeeper.
“She says we have a problem,” he said. “A lot of the plants are not natural because they’ve been mixed with this and that.”
Similar to other agricultural-based professions, production is largely dependent on the weather, said Candy Vinduska, a beekeeper from near Marion.
“Beekeeping is farming,” she said. “You can’t predict Mother Nature. You never know, but you hope to have your hives ready to go by May.”
Hives in Kansas usually produce 55 pounds, or five gallons of honey, but Vinduska said she is getting almost double that this year.
“The rain has seemed to keep the flowers blooming longer,” she said. “I’m hearing reports of a good honey crop this year.”
Similarly, McMinn said this year was the first time he saw honey production from each tray of bees across his hives.
“If we hit 45% to 50% that’s a pretty good average,” he said. “We just kept working at it and ended up hitting 100%.”
Planting flowers provides more opportunity for the bees to find pollen, but it does not guarantee bees will gravitate to a specific area.
Other factors like pollen type and time of day have an effect, too, because plants don’t generate nectar 24 hours a day, Vinduska said.
“Bees are wild,” she said. “You can’t control them. They’ll fly three miles, easily, to go for it.”
One of the best assets for local beekeepers is groups like the Wichita Area Beekeepers, Vinduska said.
“Sharing knowledge is a big help, especially with the new beekeepers,” she said. “Occasionally we’ll do something at our meetings like ‘What’s your favorite gadget?’ You bring something in that’s helped in your beekeeping and we’ll discuss that.”
While sharing information is important, advice has to be taken in the proper perspective, McMinn said.
“All beekeepers have their way of doing things,” he said. “I always tell them my way isn’t the right way, but it’s the way I do it. It works for me.”
Some beekeepers prefer a lighter amber, but McMinn blends honeys to find a flavor he likes.
“You get different flavors that way, and my customers like it much better,” he said. “It’s usually a little on the browner side, but that’s what they prefer.”
Last modified Sept. 5, 2019