Hot summer helps honey production in the Midwest - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Hot summer helps honey production in the Midwest

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The intense drought has been hard on farmers across the Midwest but there is at least one crop that is actually thriving under the sun. Joel Jellema is a concrete contractor by trade, but he's also in a sweeter line of work.

"Bees are up and working good, they love the heat." Said Jellema.

Joel and his daughter Sondrae run the Splitrock Honey Company. While the summer drought is hurting a lot of farmers, the Jellema's crop is looking to be a bumper one.

"Bees love the heat and we've got plenty of that, they're up and working. Rainy days like last year they spent a lot of time in the box, last year honey production was down in South Dakota but it sounds like it's rebounding." Said Jellema.

The Jellema's have already harvested plenty of honey much earlier than in year's past. That's even with Joel and Sondrae having a relatively small amount of hives compared to others in the area.

The rules are strict when it comes to honey bees, beekeepers can only have a maximum of 10 hive stacks every three miles. This helps prevent the hives from competing with one another and ensure a higher honey yield.

"We'll open the hives up and see how much honey we have and once it's filled 70-80% on the whole frame on all the frames we'll pull the who box and harvest the honey." Said Sondrae Jellema.

You may think this is a summer long process but these are not your average workers.

"When they get into a good flow they can fill up a frame in a matter of days." Said Jellema.

Each box can produce around two and a half gallons of honey each harvest. An average bee keeper harvests three times a year. Joel says he's hauled in quite the honey crop already thanks to this summer swelter. While he could get another good batch in, he wants to keep his 'employ-bees' happy.

"This time of year what the bees collect is what the bees keep for themselves we kind of rob the good stuff and they keep the lesser stuff from the late blooming." Said Jellema. 

When it's this hot out it's very easy to complain, but for this business this summer heat has definitely been sweet.

Joel Jellema has only been bee-keeping for the past few years. A rather bizarre choice of hobby considering he is very allergic to bee stings.

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