Traverse City Record-Eagle

Our Town

May 3, 2010

Beekeeper explains role

TRAVERSE CITY — Getting stung is just part of the family business.

"I get stung every day, I don't even think about it any more," said Jeremy Jelinek, who spoke Saturday at the Peninsula Community Library on the ins and outs of the honeybee business.

The Northwest Michigan Farm Bureau invited Jelinek, of Jelinek Apiaries in Suttons Bay, to the beekeeping presentation as part of its ongoing effort to educate Michigan consumers about agriculture.

"We will all learn something new about this business that is so vital to our success," said Heatherlyn Johnson Reamer, a member of the Farm Bureau who welcomed Jelinek to speak to the group of farmers and community members.

"Whatever can be pollinated, we pollinate," said Jelinek, who transports his 3,000 hives from California, to Florida, Michigan and Maine.

Jelinek's bees pollinate crops including almonds in southern California, oranges in Florida, cranberries in Wisconsin and apples and cherries in northern Michigan.

His hives that winter on 20,000 acres in southern Georgia are essential to the pollination of local fruit trees, said Jelinek.

"A good hive has 70,000 bees and it takes two hives per acre of sweet cherries to do the job," Jelinek said.

With Jelinek's thousands of bees comes a lot of honey, the product that started his grandfather in the business in the 1920s.

"He raised five kids on making honey," said Jelinek, noting that while production methods have changed, the bees remain the same.

"People don't realize just how important bees are to farming; without them we wouldn't have much," he said.

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