WATERTOWN, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota pollinators are having a tough time right now. The Department of Natural Resources says habitat loss, pesticides and climate change have contributed to the drastic population decline.
But now that spring is in full bloom and our gardens are getting bigger, some people are turning their backyards into a bee paradise.
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At Ames Farm in Watertown, it’s the buzzing of the bees that keeps beekeeper Brian Fredericksen alive every day.
“When the sun comes up at 5:30 or 6 p.m., I know there’s something to do,” Fredericksen said.
He not only has a honey business, but he also rents and maintains dozens of backyard hives around the metro, sharing his passion for building bee land.
“We can pretty much pet them,” Fredericksen said.
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Fredericksen says he’s seen an explosion of people moving further afield for more land, then calling for him to settle barnyard bees — part of that slower pandemic pace of life that seems to linger.
“We will bring the hive. I will come to visit you to make honey on your property and talk to you about the bees,” Fredericksen said. “Last year I had family in Wayzata in a wooded area on one of the bays, we made 120 pounds of honey on their property.”
Fredericksen says there is a bee crisis brewing, as their homes disappear. He’s doing his part by letting clover and wildflowers run wild on his 40-acre property, a luxurious home for millions of bees.
But he says you don’t have to be a beekeeper on a giant farm to make a difference.
“It’s the landowners who are going to solve this bee crisis problem,” Fredericksen said. “We need to leave some land for the bees, let its roadside ditches, whatever adds up, everyone can do their part.”
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Seasonal beehive rentals cost just over $1,200, but someone maintains them for you. Ames Farm also offers beekeeping courses. Many tenants end up becoming beekeepers themselves.