BROOKINGS, S.D. – The South Dakota State Horticultural Society will host its annual Business Meeting and Workshop June 24, 2019 in Sturgis at the Belle Joli Winery (3951 Vanocker Canyon Road). The meeting begins at 10 a.m. (Mountain).
The featured presenter is Jon Kieckhefer, owner Kieckhefer Apiaries, who whose presentation will focus on bee production and management.
“As the number of hobbyist beekeepers continues to increase, understanding hive management, the dynamics of large-scale beekeeping and the value of bees is becoming more important,” David Graper, S.D. State Horticultural Society Treasurer.
Kieckhefer began keeping honeybees in 2001.
“The addiction took hold soon after, and I increased from two hives to five hives to 10 hives and beyond, reaching my current operating number of about 500 hives beginning since 2013.”
Kieckhefer’s primary work is producing pedigreed, instrument-inseminated queens as breeding stock for honeybee queen breeders. In addition, he raises honeybees, bumblebees, mason bees and leafcutter bees for sale and pollination, operating as Kieckhefer Apiaries.
“I run hives from the Big Stone Lake area down to near Sioux Falls, and from my home west of Volga, east to central Minnesota,” he said.
Bee production in South Dakota
Production and management of bees in general, and honeybees in particular, is significant in South Dakota and the northern plains.
South Dakota ranks fourth in honey production in the United States, with approximately 255,000 honeybee hives managed in South Dakota at least for the summer months each year.
“The vast majority of those hives are in migratory operations and move out of state for the winter, most making a circuitous journey from South Dakota to Texas or Louisiana, then to California, back to Texas or north to the Pacific Northwest, before returning to South Dakota,” Graper explained.
Graper added that honeybees pollinate a number of crops under contracts, and even more without contracts.
“Managing hives to meet the needs of producers, and the businesses of producing bees and products from hives, are specialized agricultural operations in their own rights, but beekeeping has become essential to a number of crops,” Graper said.
Pre-registration is required and due by June 17, 2019. See our Facebook group page for more information and the registration form, visit Facebook and search South Dakota State Horticultural Society.
The registration fee for the morning program is $20 for Society members and $25 for non-members. Lunch is on your own, the winery is close to downtown Sturgis.
After lunch, attendees may chose to participate in a winery tour and wine tasting for an additional fee of $10.