Western Courier

Western prepares for second annual honey harvest

Emily Stieren, Courier Staff

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On Tuesday, Sept. 19, the Honey Harvest is returning to Macomb. The harvest will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at Western Illinois University’s Horn Field Campus. The free event is for students and the local community to experience bee keeping first hand.

 Dan Yoder, the Park and Tourism Administration Chair, has been participating in bee keeping for approximately 30 years. This is the second year he has given Macomb residents the opportunity to interact with more than 30,000 bees.

 “We will take the frame out of the colony of bees that we have,” Yoder said. “We will take them out to the lodge that’s out there then we will process it. The honey is in the honeycomb, which is capped with a wax cap, so we have to cut that off. Then we will spin it really fast, and the honey will fly out.”

 Removal of the honey from the hive is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., and the bottling of it is to be at 7:30. Yoder is giving anyone the chance to be up close and personal with the bees during the process.

 “We have enough veils and helmets and gloves for about six people to actually go to the hive itself and take the honey out,” Yoder said. “To give people an opportunity, I will take a group out at 5:30 and at 6 I will take another group out.”

 The honey extracted from the hives will be sold at the end of the evening. Yoder claims it to be the “freshest honey ever” and is only $5 for an 8-ounce bottle and $10 for a pint.

 “Much of the honey that we buy has been processed,” Yoder said. “To see it on the market, you have to heat it up. In the heating process, the honey becomes darker, and it loses a little bit of its flavor. What it really loses is that beautiful smell of fresh honey.”

 The 90 acres of land that Western’s Horn Field campus is perfect for beekeeping according to Program Coordinator for Horn Field Campus Mindy Pheiffer.

 “We have native prairie out here. There are certain plants that attract bees on Horn Field Campus,” Pheiffer said. “It is a laboratory for people to learn about the outdoors,” Yoder said. “It was just a logical place to put a colony of bees because we do have a lot of people.”

 More than anything, Honey Harvest is a learning experience. Yoder started the event just for that reason.

 “I talk to everyone about bee keeping and various things,” Yoder said. “ I talk to them about what I’m doing, but most of them just watch.”The mixture of learning and entertainment is what attracts so many students and locals to Honey Harvest.

 “We had a really nice turn out last year because it really appeals to families,” Pheiffer said. “A lot of local families are looking for authentic educational activities to take their families to, and it’s free so, why wouldn’t you?”

 Yoder expects a large crowd at this year’s Honey Harvest. The now well-known event has the potential to spread awareness for the slow declination of the honeybee population.

 “The biggest threat in this country and certainly around here is the loss of habitat,” Yoder said, “The farming methods around here don’t leave enough old tress up for the bees. They don’t benefit from corn or soybeans. Not only do they not have a place to live, but they don’t have enough food either.”

 Horn Field Campus’s faculty understands the need for bee survival, which makes it a great area to hold the event.

 “We are all very interested in honey bees as the population starts declining, so this is one way to come out and look at where they really thrive,” Pheiffer said.

 In the event of inclement weather, Honey Harvest will be rescheduled to Tuesday, Sept. 26.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Western prepares for second annual honey harvest