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Honeybees migration into their new home. – Credit: Emma Widmar

Save the bees!

Save the bees, our lives depend on it.

I know this because I once had no connection and appreciation for this winged insect.

It’s true, the real buzz and word on the street is that these little buggers hold more value than we, as a society, realize.

Emma in her pajamas after harvesting her first bottle of honey. – Credit: Dylan Kleitsch

Today, I can say that I’d consider myself having intermediate knowledge of honeybees.

Saying that I’m educated about bees at an intermediate level may be generous, but I’ve come to learn that even a beginner mind can come to know the worth of bees.

This year, and even more so this summer, despite being deathly allergic to bee stings, I realized the vital role these pollinators play.

It’s not too late to save the bees, I tell ya, this year was our year for change.

A new kind of resolution

I’m not typically one for New Year’s Resolutions, but when nearing the end of 2022, and as we quickly approached the new year, I wanted to make a change and to do something that I could look back on, be proud of and say, “I accomplished that.”

Dylan holding the queen bee. The queen is inside the small wooden cage prior to being released into the hive. – Credit: Emma Widmar

The goal wasn’t one of your average “lose weight, eat healthier and reduce stress” types of resolutions.

That’s right, the first thing on my list of resolutions, in the notes app on my phone reads, “Get bees, save the bees,” and nothing more.

If you know me, you’re probably raising an eyebrow and thinking, “Another hobby? Really Emma?” Yes, but this one is about more than me, it’s about saving the bees.

Easier said than done for a girl who lives in a subdivision in Mount Pleasant, right?

With the help of a special someone—my significant other—we sought after the goal of owning bees when springtime rolled around in Wisconsin.

The hive insert after harvesting honey. – Credit: Emma Widmar

Not only do we selfishly love honey, but the bees play an enormous role in our ecosystem and as I like to think of it, they really rule the roost.

It’s true, the United States Department of Agriculture reports that three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about 35% of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce. That’s one out of every three bites of food you eat.

Think about it: one out of every three bites of food you eat are dependent upon insects and other pollinators. The next time you sit to chow down on a burger or a slice of pizza, think about this impact.

It’s pollinators like bees that we depend on; how can we not care about them? How can we not attempt to save them? Seemed like a no-brainer for me and Dylan.

Dylan suited up and ready to tend to the hive and harvest. – Credit: Emma Widmar

It takes a village

Luckily, I’m backed by the support of a man and family with land and a beautiful place for the bees to call home, among prairies, wildflowers, large trees, fields of hay, and farmland.

My boyfriend, Dylan, and I gave our shot at beekeeping this year. Moreso him doing the beekeeping duties.

Living on a farm, it seems that he can pick up just about any craft, task, or hobby that I want to tangle us into.

What knowledge he doesn’t know, he picks up from his parents and even from their farming friends. Dylan was fortunate to help a local get his hives started for the year, all while learning how to make our first colony grow and thrive.

Honey makes its way through an electric honey extractor. A local beekeeper lent the equipment out free of charge. – Credit: Emma Widmar

From beginning to end, it wasn’t just us working to save the bees.

A friendly stranger from Facebook Marketplace was offering his electric honey extractor to beekeepers in the area, free to use for harvesting. We couldn’t have done it without the equipment.

Neighbors, friends and family all did their part as well to support our efforts whether it was donating mason jars or taking bottles of what I like to call “liquid gold” off our hands.

A bottle of what Emma calls “liquid gold” gets packaged. – Credit: Emma Widmar

We did it all, from Dylan’s readiness to add frames to our hive, tending to the bees whenever needed, and jumping into the bee suit whenever the time called.

What we didn’t learn from others, including beekeepers in the area, we learned from the bees.

Whether we knew it or not, saving the bees was our resolution. It may seem like a large task at hand, but even with saving some of the bees, we accomplished our goal.

Emma helping to harvest the honey. – Credit: Dylan Kleitsch

5 things I learned from the bees

  1. Bees have short life spans, let it be a reminder not to sweat the small stuff.
  2. Bees cannot advocate for themselves so we must always be our own best advocates.
  3. Buying local honey supports saving the bees. Support local whenever possible.
  4. Gardening is a hobby that gives back. Invest in gardening for yourself and the environment.
  5. Cling to the ones you love and protect them, just like the bees do.

Connect to other bee lovers

Dylan getting ready to tackle harvesting the honey. – Credit: Emma Widmar

The Racine-Kenosha Beekeepers Club and Walworth County Bee Club can connect you to other bee lovers if you find yourself aspiring to become a beekeeper.

Want to join in on the fun and learn more? Wisconsin Pollinators provides everything from classes to information that can be found online. Check out Wisconsin Honey Producers for more details about all things bees and honey.

Bee a part of the solution and learn more about saving the bees through Save the Bee.

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