The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 15, 2013

Saving honeybees, one hive at a time

WICHITA, Kan. — On a 102-degree afternoon here, Bill Vinduska pulled on his beekeeper suit and raised himself 25 feet in a hydraulic lift, to the eaves under the clubhouse roof at L.W. Clapp Municipal Golf Course.

When you’re trying to help save the world, you sometimes get stung, and sweaty. “There are days I just don’t want to do this anymore,” Vinduska said.

Vinduska would sweat for the next four hours.

To slip into the suit, he’d taken off his shirt, exposing the tattoos: a heavy-link chain encircling his neck. Inside the loop, on Vinduska’s chest, lies a red heart wrapped in thorns. It was about 120 degrees under the eaves.

The tats, the shaved head, sweatband and long beard may look formidable and off-putting, but Kansas bee people say Vinduska is one of the better mentors around — hard-working, respectful and smart.

And they say he’s one of the few people trying to save the honeybees rather than one of the many killing them off.

If he does help save them, they say, he may end up saving all of us too.

We are killing off the honeybee, bee people say. We do so at our own great peril.

Randy Verhoek, the Texan who leads the American Honey Producers Association as president, said, “The losses we are suffering are simply not sustainable.”

Beekeepers, who truck billions of bees all over the country to pollinate our fruits, nuts and vegetables, have lost nearly 40 percent of their hives each summer in recent years, Verhoek said, a catastrophic loss. Bees are dying in the wild, too.

Jerry Brown, a third-generation beekeeper in Haddam, Kan., used to manage 4,000 hives, but he’s down to 600, mostly because of colony collapse disorder. Verhoek manages 20,000 hives, and with 50,000 or so bees in every hive, that means he owns a billion bees. He loses millions of them every year.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • 9 TC Rainbow stores to close Supermarkets to lose in Cottage Grove, Shoreview, Inver Grove Heights, Apple Valley, Blaine, Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Maple Grove and Savage

    July 21, 2014

  • Accelerants fuel fire; 2 rescued ST. PAUL — Two brothers were rescued from the upper floor of a St. Paul duplex in a fire that was fueled by cylinders of gas, oxygen and other accelerants. Authorities say the two were taken to Regions Hospital where one man is in critical condition

    July 21, 2014

  • Monticello doctor dies in cycle crash Patients among those mourning Dr. Eric Lefebvre's death

    July 21, 2014

  • Precautions urged for excessive heat, humidity MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Health officials are urging Minnesotans to take precautions in dealing with high temperatures and humidity. The National Weather Service says the humidity will make temperatures feel like 100 to 110 degrees Monday across much of M

    July 21, 2014

  • NASA names building for moonwalker Neil Armstrong NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon when the Apollo 11 mission landed there 45 years

    July 21, 2014

  • Minnesota man loses relatives in airliner crash Drew Ryder of Willmar says victims included his brother, sister-in-law

    July 21, 2014

  • Shark sightings off Cape Cod a boon for tourism CHATHAM, Mass. (AP) — In "Jaws," the fictional mayor tried to protect the summer tourism season by keeping a lid on reports of the man-eater lurking offshore. As sightings of great white sharks mount off Cape Cod in real life, however, businesses in

    July 21, 2014

  • Dutch anger swells at treatment of Ukraine bodies THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — It is no longer only grief and mourning sweeping across the Netherlands in the aftermath of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. It is now anger. The Dutch have widely condemned the way the bodies of loved ones h

    July 21, 2014

  • Diplomacy intensifies amid mounting Gaza toll GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state headed to Cairo on Monday for the highest-level attempt yet to end two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting that has killed at least 510 Palestinians and 20 Israelis and driven ten

    July 21, 2014

  • Actor James Garner dead at age 86 Veteran film and television actor James Garner died of natural causes Saturday at the age of 86.

    July 20, 2014