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The Art of Beekeeping

Willington resident John Howe shared his knowledge about beekeeping Tuesday night at Tolland Public Library.

Willington resident John Howe had a few obstacles in his way when he first started keeping bees as a hobby seven years ago, including a bee allergy and a fear of the stinging insects.

"The first time I opened the hive, it took all I had to stand there," Howe said of overcoming his fear.

But the proud owner of 15 hives is now completely comfortable around bees and also discovered he's mostly allergic to yellowjackets, as opposed to honeybees. He spent Tuesday evening sharing his knowledge with Tolland residents and a few prospective beekeepers at .

Howe gave some practical tips for novice beekeepers. For example, beginners should always start with two hives, so they can compare the different behaviors of the insects and identify if one hive is doing poorly.

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And for those who aren't into heavy lifting, medium boxes can be used to construct the hives, which will only weigh 60 pounds when full, as opposed to the 90-pound deep boxes that some use.

Howe also talked about current issues with bees, including the phenomenon of colony collapse disorder, in which a hive will leave its uneaten honey for the winter and abandon the hive, almost without a trace.

Howe has had this happen with some of his own hives. While the cause is still undetermined, he said that pesticides, insecticides, cell phone towers and other environmental factors are likely making the problem worse.

Anyone who would like to purchase the honey Howe produces or would like to tour the beehives at his Willington property can contact Howe at (860) 429-8000 or lead.drone@gmail.com.

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