By Starrla Cray
MAYER, MN Mayer Lutheran High School has been buzzing with activity lately, and it’s not just because school started Wednesday.
The adventure began last spring, after sophomore Jacob Weimeier stopped in executive director Joel Landskroener’s office.
“I don’t know how we started talking about bees,” Landskroener said. “One thing led to another, and we decided, why not put them on campus? Let’s help our farmers, and let’s help the environment.”
So, that’s what they did.
Weimeier, the son of John and Laura Weimeier of rural Arlington, bought about 15 pounds of Carniolan bees and set up his hives. Some are in a tree-covered area near the school building, while others stay in Lutheran High Woods, located between Mayer and New Germany.
Soon, the honey will be ready for harvesting.
“If I get enough, I’d like to give some to the school’s sponsors, to show my gratitude,” said Weimeier, explaining that he loves the education at MLHS. His older siblings, Liz, Mik, and Jessica, all graduated from the school, as well.
Weimeier has been visiting MLHS throughout the summer, but it hasn’t been for classes. He checks his hives every two weeks, making sure they’re free of mites, disease, and overcrowding.
“I also look to see if the queen is alive,” Weimeier said, explaining that the queen bee is vital to the colony’s success.
May is one of the most critical times for observation.
“That’s when they start to swarm; they get in a huge ball with the queen in the middle,” Weimeier said, adding that Carniolan bees are especially prone to swarming.
Fortunately, this type of bee is also very docile, and the swarm can be caught in a box and brought to a hive chamber, known as a deep. If the bees need more space, Weimeier adds another deep to the hive.
“When a bee lands on you, don’t hit them,” he said. “They’re probably just tired and looking for a place to rest. They don’t mean any harm.”
Weimeier got his start in beekeeping three years ago, raising Italian bees on his family farm.
“It’s quite an interesting hobby,” Weimeier said. “I’ve learned so much about them.”
When he’s not at school or working with his hives, Weimeier can often be found helping his parents.
“We run an on-the-farm processing plant,” he said. “We have beef, pork, chicken, ducks, geese, and sheep.”
Weimeier isn’t sure where his career path will go in the future, but he has plenty of options.
“I’m a man of many trades,” he said, explaining that his experience includes farming, woodworking, welding, sausage making, and of course, beekeeping.
“The best part of beekeeping is the learning experience, and sharing it with people,” Weimeier said.