The buzz about bees


On Mon., Jan. 10, local beekeeper Beth Poppen brought in the items she used to start her own beehives. She calls herself an amateur, just getting into beekeeping three years ago. Right now, the demand for bees is high, and most suppliers have a waiting list for those wanting to get more. Poppen got her bees at Runnings but said they can even come in the mail. Once, the post office asked her to retrieve a package that was “buzzing.”

Ten thousand bees arrive in a grated box with sugar water, so the bees can feed. Right now, 10,000 bees cost approximately $125. The queen bee arrives with them but is in a separate vial. Queen bees live a couple of years, but worker bees have a life span of a few months. A drone bee lives 4 – 6 weeks and dies after mating.

Poppen has four hives. She said all beekeepers are supposed to register with the state. An inspector comes to check on the bees, keeping track of the state’s bee population. All beekeepers must keep a close eye on their bees, and if conditions are not good or the bees get crowded, they will swarm and leave the hive, going elsewhere. Mites are also a constant problem and will kill bees.

Once, the SD Highway Department called, wanting Poppen to come get a swarm of bees. She still has these bees but said they are more aggressive than her other hives have been.

Poppen has been stung several times, but this year, she had an allergic reaction and keeps an EpiPen with her at all times.

In late summer, Poppen takes her bees to Missouri for the winter. Last year, she took her horses and her bees to Missouri at the same time and will not do that combination again.

All IMPACT members received a jar of delicious honey.

On Tues., Jan. 11, SDSU Exercise Science Intern Paige Boetel taught a strength, fitness and exercise program. She did a pretest of strength, body fat and flexibility for those who wished to participate.

“Next week, I think I need to add more stretching exercises,” Boetel tactfully commented after testing the volunteers.

On Wed., Jan. 12, the group toured the Mayfield Truss plant. Mayfield employs 60 workers with a starting salary of $14 and bonuses for production and quality. That day, the employees were unaware that they were getting a $5000 bonus at the end of the day.

Workers come from as far as Brookings, Lake Norden, Huron and Watertown. Management said their workers are dedicated. The use and efficiency of their workforce plus coordination with the mechanization and computers was fascinating. Part of the truss work is done at their sister plant located at the Mayfield Colony. Plans are in the process to have $5 million in robotics installed there in the next 18 months. Those workers will then be moved to the facility on Highway 25.

Following the Mayfield Truss tour, the IMPACT group proceeded to the Bryant Theater for a private showing of Dream Horse. Theater volunteer Jennifer Carstensen told IMPACT members the theater was going to close in 1999, so a group of volunteers and investors took it over and have been running it ever since. The Bryant Theatre was the first in South Dakota to get Dolby Sound, and they felt fortunate to have that in the theater when they took it over. They are always grateful for volunteers at the theater who sell tickets, serve concessions or help clean.


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