Busy bees are the buzz at Summit Community Gardens | ParkRecord.com

Busy bees are the buzz at Summit Community Gardens

The nonprofit is determined to maintain a healthy hive

Countless honeybees flew back and forth on Wednesday from their manmade hive to the rows of Summit Community Gardens' sunflowers.

As the insects collected nectar and pollen from the plants — some reaching taller than 5 feet — with bright yellow petals, Ken Kullack explained why the nonprofit organization is determined to maintain a hive. Last year's colony died off, so Kullack set out to replace it this spring.

"We think the queen died or left. It's hard to tell," said Kullack, the nonprofit's executive director. "Once the queen dies, you only have a few days before the rest of the hive dies off."

In order to replace the colony, Kullack brought in funding from Ellie's Personal Chefs and Catering. He said the organization needed a sponsor who wants to support Utah's bee population.

"She agreed to become the beehive sponsor, because she understands the importance of bees within our agricultural community," Kullack said.

Honeybees play an integral role in the yielding of fruit and vegetable crops. Kulack said the pollinators buzzing in the organization's hive constructed of wood panels keep its gardens healthy.

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"For us, it was a no-brainer to have a hive," Kullack said. "You're basically getting free pollinators. We have all these bees out here. All the worker bees are going to fly out to those sunflowers, the squash and the tomatoes that we're growing over there."

While the current colony is flourishing, the process of introducing thousands of the new bees to the hive was stressful, Kulack said, since the worker bees and queen bee were sent in a package.

"It's basically a wood frame with screens around the outside of it, so you're buying thousands of bees with the queen bee in its own cage in the middle," Kullack said.

Once the bees were placed in the hive, the worker bees started producing comb so the queen had somewhere to lay eggs in order to produce more of the insects that now fly from flower to flower.

If this year's colony doesn't survive the winter, Kullack said the nonprofit will introduce more of the pollinators in the spring.

He said, the organization is, however, trying to make sure the bees have what they need to make it through the colder months. For instance, honey from the hive will not be collected this fall.

"What the bees are doing by collecting nectar is they're trying to get food stored for the winter," Kullack said. "If you take their honey away from them in the early fall, they're not going to have much for the winter."

The executive director added that he would like to have a second hive on the property near Matt Knoop Park in the near future, saying it's important to support a population that faces many threats.

"There is a correlation between colony collapse and all the insecticides being sprayed out there," Kullack said. "Experts think that is detrimental to bees, so there is less food out there for bees."

For more information about the Summit Community Gardens, which offers plots for rent and education on organic gardening, visit summitcommunitygardens.org.