- Associated Press - Sunday, May 10, 2015

GLENVIL, Neb. (AP) - For Ron Babcock, beekeeping just isn’t a hobby; it’s his passion.

“I wouldn’t say beekeeping is my second job; it’s more of my passion,” he told the Hastings Tribune. “I love what I do, so it isn’t work.”

Babcock, 53, is a systems analyst at Mary Lanning Healthcare and also the owner of Babcock Farms in Glenvil.

“My job can sometimes be stressful,” he said. “It’s very relaxing for me to be out there with the bees.”

Babcock got into bees when he was young. His aunt and uncle had a farm in Colorado, and their neighbors had bees.

“After I got done helping my uncle with chores on the farm, I would walk the mile down to the neighbors’ place and sit out there drinking tea and watching the bees,” he said.

With the population of bees declining, Babcock knew he wanted to get involved to help preserve bees.

“When I heard that bees were declining, I wanted to do something about it,” he said. “The best things that can be done are planting flowers that are good pollen and nectar producers or become a beekeeper. I chose both.”

So far this year, Babcock has planted six acres of wildflowers for his bees with eight more acres still to go.

Getting into beekeeping is easy, he said.

“First thing is go to a class,” Babcock said. “That’s the most important thing. It’s a great idea. That is how I got started.”

Babcock also teaches a beekeeping class at Central Community College-Hastings.

“When I first started getting into beekeeping, I read up as much as I could, and then I realized that I needed a little bit more help,” he said. “So I took a beginning class, went through a master beekeeping program and then a queen rearing class.”

Babcock’s bee farm doesn’t produce honey only. He also breeds bees, raises queens and sells them, and produces small hives.

“The bees that I raise, I bring in genetics from other parts of the country, to bring in the traits that I’m looking for,” he said. “I’m breeding for certain traits like gentleness, how much honey they produce, how they handle the winter and how prolific they are.”

Babcock also goes out and captures swarms.

“If someone notices a swarm and they want to get rid of it, it needs to be done quickly,” he said. “They don’t stick around very long; they’re looking for a new place to live at that point.”

Once the bees are captured, he brings them back to the farm and pastures them.

“I bring the bees here and release them and give them the good life,” he said.

The part of Babcock’s entire operation that he enjoys the most is raising queens.

“A hive is a marvelous miracle of nature,” he said. “Queen rearing is the most satisfying. You’re creating and making something.”

The most challenging part is keeping the bees healthy.

“There’s a lot of things going against the bees,” he said. “With pesticides and drought, there’s not as many floral sources for them around so they have to work harder to get fed.”

In March, Babcock started a local beekeeping club.

“We meet every couple of months and discuss specific topics,” he said. “We bring in guest speakers and just try to educate others about beekeeping.”


Information from: Hastings Tribune, https://www.hastingstribune.com

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