Busy as the bees

Doug Marconnet, partner at Waukesha-based Mertz Associates Inc., and his wife, Tracy, got into bee keeping just over a year ago. They started by taking a bee keeping class through the UW-Extension.

“Tracy is a master gardener, so she loves flowers and loves gardening and we decided that bee keeping would make a great addition to that pastime, while also giving us an opportunity to learn something new and help pollinate the gardens around our house,” Marconnet said.

Marconnet and his wife checked with the neighbors surrounding their residence and found that even though many people are afraid of the idea of bee keeping, all of them were comfortable enough to let them do it.

They started out last year with two hives and this year plan to expand to as many as six.

“It has definitely become something we love,” Marconnet said. “My wife has a blog and I read a ton on bees and bee keeping. It’s important to understand that it’s not really as scary as everyone thinks it is, it’s actually very calming.”

According to Marconnet, bee keepers need to be calm around the bees in order not to agitate them. The experience is something he and his wife can share together, he said.

“We got into it, not knowing we’d end up falling in love with it,” he said. “It’s a great way for us to learn and do something together. We can help each other through some of the more frustrating and confusing parts about it.”

Marconnet and his wife spend an average of two hours a week tending to the hives, and are beginning to ramp up for this season already. The two have a fairly large-sized community garden in the area and also plan to harvest the honey from the bees.

“The type of honey is determined by what the bees are pollinating,” Marconnet said. “Ours will be a wildflower honey. Last year we didn’t have a lot of it because it was our first year. This year we are expecting much more, and we’re excited for that.”

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