A honeybee in Tim Olsen’s beehive slowly moves back into the hive. Honeybees do not excrete inside the hives in order to keep their nest and the honey sanitary.Local beekeeper Tim Olsen poses with two of his honeybee hives northwest of Luverne. Olsen will instruct a class in apiculture on Feb. 25 and March 10 through Luverne Community Education.The presence of dead bees outside one of Tim Olsen’s hives indicates the bees are active and have recently cleaned the hive.Ventilation is important in lowering temperatures inside beehives, where bees gathering around the queen bee could raise temperatures as high as 90 degrees. Tim Olsen points to a ventilation hole near the top of the wooden hive.

Local apiculturist shares beekeeping skills in new Community Education class

Area residents have a unique learning opportunity currently being offered through Luverne Community Education.

“Intro to Beginning Beekeeping” is a new two-class offering by local apiculturist Tim Olsen. Classes will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 25 and March 10 in the Community Education building.

“I remember opening up a bee hive and was startled by what I saw,” Olsen said of his initial experience with a hive.

In the six years since that first look, Olsen has taken courses through the University of Minnesota, read dozens of books on raising honeybees and has asked thousands of questions.

“We are not dealing with a truly domesticated animal,” Olsen said. “Once you think you have figured them out, they change.”

A mentor would have made his learning process easier, he said.

Attendees of Olsen’s beekeeping introduction will have him as a mentor for a year. Use of essential beekeeping equipment is included in the coursework, something Olsen said is best learned while working on a hive. He will also share how to keep bees happy and why he finds the social insects fascinating.

A Rock County Master Gardener, Olsen said working with soil and watching plants grow and mature reminded him of his youth growing up on a farm near Windom.

His current position as executive director for Ground Works – Midwest also keeps his hands working in soil.

GWM is a not-for-profit organization that partners with elementary and middle schools using gardening programs as an innovative education resource. GWM began in the fall of 2011. It is headquartered in Sioux Falls.

While growing up, Olsen was also involved learning animal production as a 4-H’er and FFA member. He found he missed the daily tending to livestock.

Olsen, who lives in Luverne, began beekeeping six years ago, a task that “fed the farm boy in him” that gardening alone couldn’t satisfy.

He keeps his wooden hives at the farm of Dave and Rhonda Wynia northwest of Luverne. Olsen said his bees have access to thousands of acres of plant nectar necessary for honey production. He harvests about 50 pounds, per hive, of honey a year.

In his community education course, Olsen will also discuss basic bee biology, colony management and current beekeeping challenges in southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa.

Special emphasis will be placed on winterization. Olsen’s honeybees stay in their current Minnesota location year-round.

Weather permitting, the class will also include a visit to his beehives, where he will show the importance of listening while knocking on the hives.

“You don’t want to hear a roar,” he said.

Healthy, well-fed bees equal good honey producers, he said.

At the end of the community education courses, Olsen will help interested participants start two of their own beehives.

 “To me bees are remarkable creatures,” he said.

For more information or to register for Olsen’s class, call Community Education at 283-4724. Cost is $20. For the beekeeping manuals and DVD, add an additional $25.

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