In 2014, three members of St. Peter's, Chuck and Sandy Dailey along with Gary Sanders began the idea of raising honeybees on the property here at St. Peter's. Numerous hours of reading and learning about what it would take to raise honeybees ensued and a corral was built in the Fall of 2014.
In Spring 2015, the supers were constructed and the three new beekeepers attended classes offered by the Indiana Beekeepers Association to prepare for this new endeavour. In mid-March 2015, the supers were sent with our bee breeeder who will return them in early June 2015.
In 2016, the corral surrounding the hives was increased to be a 10’ x 20’ space and four new hives were added. We also planted 70 pounds of Ladino, White Dutch and Crimson clover in the fields.
In 2017, our apiary became fully instrumented and temperature, humidity and weight sensors were added to help us understand what is going on in the hives at a given time. The addition of a cell tower in the corral allows real-time monitoring of the hives from any device. Click here to see the latest data. Our honey harvest netted around 150 pounds. Proceeds helped to fund our continued apiary research and teaching projects.
After a particularly devastating winter that was extremely cold and longer than normal, 2018 did not start out as a promising year for the apiary. We were down to 2 functioning (not healthy) hives and had plans to purchase four nucs from our commercial beekeeper. We were also gifted a hive from a local beekeeper who was needing to step back a bit from the hobby. The “Martha” hive proved to be super-strong and reached a peak weight of over 400 pounds in mid-summer. L:abor Day weekend saw about 119 pounds of honey being taken off from the Martha hive. Varroa mite tests were done and treatments applied in late October which hopefully will help the hive winter well. By checking the hive data we can help ensure the brood box temperature stays 92-97F which is optimal for the queen.
2019 promises new additions and learning about the role of the honeybee in our daily lives.
While both hives thrived this year and each carried over 100 pounds of honey into the late fall, the true measure of our success will come early this spring; overwintering honey bees in this climate is a tremendous challenge, and many local hives will not survive the winter. To help their odds, all excess honey stores over 80 pounds were removed and will be returned to them for early spring food resources.
Number of hives: 6 (as of 10-23-18)
Our apriary is considered to be a teaching apiary in that we regularly invite groups to St. Peter's to see the bees at work. We have built a corral around the hives at a height of 6 feet which allows you to walk up to the hives and look at the bees. The bees have a natural instinct to fly out of the hive, straight up and over the fence and will maintain a flight height of at least 6 feet until they reach their food source.
We have fifteen suits and hoods for those wishing to wear some protection while touring the hives or if they want to go inside the corral. Tours can be scheduled for schools, 4-H groups, scout groups, or adults interested in learning more about beekeeping. Please contact the parish office for more information.
Our Senior Beekeeper, Chuck Dailey, also is the Education Chair for the Indiana Beekeepers Association and regularly gives talks across the state on beekeeping. For the last two years, St. Peter's has presented talks at the Indiana State Fair.