The Quest for a Wisconsin-bred Queen

Read on to learn more about the Urban Apiary at Troy Community Farm from our Apiary Coordinator, Sarah Shatz! 

My name is Sarah Shatz and I am the Apiary Coordinator at Troy Community Farm.  This year the Apiary received generous funding from the Alliant Energy Foundation to fund our work focusing on developing a sustainable apiary.  We also received a generous donation of labor and woodshop space from CSA members Liz and Robin Carley allowing us use Carley, Wood Associates, Inc.'s shop during the winter months for hive assembly and equipment repair.  The guys at Mendota helped with assembly and painting and we've also got 2009 SARE Grant recipient Sierra Powell working with us doing direct apiary work.  It takes many different people and talents to put it all together so well.

This year, we decided to increase the apiary to 10 hives and focus on managing them so that they can live through a long Wisconsin winter.  Of course, we'd like to get some honey out of the deal, but our priority is to develop a "Wisconsing hardy Queen."  The bees that most commericial and hobby beekeepers use come from California, selected to pollinate crops with high reproduction rates.   Every year the Wisconsin winter survival rate of these California-bred colonies is decreasing.  We need different traits for our local bees!



Claire and I attended a 3-day Queen Rearing workshop at the University of Minnesota this July and are working closely with the Dane County Beekeepers Association to educate ourselves and local beekeepers about sustainable beekeeping practices.  This Spring we hosted a class with 30 participants on the Basics of Sustainable beekeeping.  We are happy to report that the class went well and all of the students have hives in various areas around Dane County.   We will be doing this again next year in February, March, and April.



And for the hive report.....Edna, Fern, Gertrude, Heidi, Izabella and Jolene are working hard and bringing in nectar and pollen.  They have been seen all over the clover cover crop at the farm and are progressing quite nicely.  We still don't know how much honey we will have for sale in the fall, but we will certainly keep you posted!

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