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June 18, 1977 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-06-18

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Saturday, June 18, 977


Page Five

Apiary: Sweetness for sale

For many people, the sight of
approaching bees sends them
scurrying for protection from an
anticipated sting. But not Fred
To Dittmer, an apiarist (bee-
keeper), a swarm of bees is a
welcome sight, a sign of produc-
tive honey-gathering year. Ditt-
mer, owner of Dittmer Apiaries
on Scio Church Road, has raised
bees and produced honey for
over 40 years. He started rais-
ing queen bees in Ohio during
the Depression, later settling in
other farming enterprise, Ditt-
mer says, subject to the whims
of nature and man. "It's unpre-
dictable and it's a gamble."
One of the bees' deadliest foes
is man-made pesticides. The
pesticide DDT had killed many
bees before it was finally ban-
ned in the U.S. in the early
seventies. But Dittmer says the
harmful effects of DDT still
"They didn't use it the way
they should have," he explained.
"It still does damage because
it is not out of the ground yet."
affacted by the weather. Ex-
treme heat and cold spells hin-
der the bees' efforts to gather
honey. Bees have an easier time
coping with the heat because
they utilize an ingenious air
conditioning system to cool the
According to Dittmer, a group
of bees stand looking into the
hive while another group looks
out. They start to fan with their
wings, circulating the cool air
into the hive and forcing hot air
"If you took a match and held
the flame next to the bees the
flame would suck into the hive
for one and blow away from the
Daily photos
Alan Bilinsky

hive for the other," Dittmer
THE QUEEN BEE rules the
hive. She lays 5-8,000 egges a
day and is about twice the size
of the underdeveloped female
worker bee.
If any of the, young are de-
fective or if the queen is injured
in any way, the worker bees de-
stroy them.
"They are very cruel," Ditt-
mer axplained. "If they are no
good the other bees carry them
out and drop them into the
The queens Dittmer uses come

from long lines of bees who
have their ability to hatch pro-
ductive honey-gathering worker
bees. tDittmer has used several
lines of bees for so long he can
tell which are gentle and which
are mean. "You get so you know
their characteristics," he said.
Since bees have a tendency to
get upset if someone tries to
handle them, D i t t lmer uses
smoke to pacify the honey-pro-
ducers before w o r k in g with
them. however, he warns that
if the bees are riled enough, the
smoke will not affect them. And
that's when Dittmer scurries for

FaR DI via vs , owner uofsittmar Aparies, reminisces over
the forty years he has raised bees and collected their honey.

BEES SWARM over this nearly full honey comb. The bees cap
each cell with wax to preserve the golden fluid inside.

BLOWING SMOKE into the hive pacifies bees and allows
beekeepers to collect honey without fear of reprisal-they hope.

is an important part of the apiarist's job. Here Dittmer uses
yes from angry bees.

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