Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

Environmental Department Begins Honey Bee Project

Two new honey bee houses, or “honey supers”, were recently constructed as part of an educational project for the youth and community members. The houses were placed in a fenced-in area near the Tribal fish hatchery.
Tina VanZile, Sokaogon Chippewa Environmental Director, and Tim Murphy, Tribal Accountant, purchased the houses through a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) grant for the youth.

The houses currently hold about 10,000 bees each, with the maximum number of bees expected to reach 50,000. Each hive has one queen, several thousand worker bees and a few hundred drone bees. It takes about 21 days for the bees to emerge from an egg.
Bees are an important part of our ecosystem, and are valued for their roles as pollinators. The Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States estimated that the worth of honey bee-pollinated crops worldwide totaled near $200 billion in 2005. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has caused millions of bee colonies to disappear over the last couple decades.
Tina and Tim wish to show the youth how to maintain a bee house and are hoping community members will volunteer and get involved with the project.

“Maybe there will be someone who finds an interest in this and wants to do it as well,” said Tim, a beekeeper since 1994.

The queen can be identified by its red dot.

For Tina, an interesting part of this project is the potential to produce honey for community members with allergies.
“Raw honey from the region helps with allergies over time,” she said.

Local bees will collect the pollen from the region, which is ingested by humans and helps slowly build a tolerance to the local pollen. The honey must come from a local source and cannot be cooked down. Honey may also be used as a cough suppressant. While the hive may not produce honey in the first year, we can expect to see honey sometime next year.

Community members who wish to learn more are welcome to contact Tina or Tim for more information. You can email Tina VanZile or call 715-478-7605, or email Tim Murphy or call 715-478-7523.