MISSOULA – Beekeepers across Western Montana were buzzing with excitement as 2.5 million honeybees arrived in Missoula on Friday.
The drones arrived from California and then made their way into the hands of local beekeepers.
Western Bee in Polson orders millions of bees from warmer states this time of year, then they deliver a portion of those to Missoula. About 100 local beekeepers met at Fort Missoula to pick them up.
University of Montana research professor Jerry Bromenshenk says Western Bee is one of the biggest manufacturers of beehives in the country.
“We’ve seen it’s much more convenient and probably safer not to have everybody in the Bitterroot and Missoula driving to Polson to get their colonies, so we brought back 176 packages today,” he told MTN News.
Bromenshenk also says that everyone who keeps bees does it because they love to.
“A former Dean said to me — that he thought when I retired that I would go off and do what I always wanted to do — and after a couple of years you realize — that I’ve always been doing what I wanted to do.”
He says the online beekeeping class has become pretty popular. The director of online studies, Maricel Lawrence, is a third generation beekeeper.
“One of my favorite parts of growing up in Argentina was my dad waking me up early in the morning in the summertime and just going to the farm and working with him,” Lawrence said.
Researchers recently discovered that bees actually talk to each other, and even have regional “accents”.
“That’s not what we normally would have expected, and when you suddenly see that then, if you’re curious like those of us that are really involved with this, then you keep coming each day to see what new thing can you learn,” Bromenshenk explained.
He added that discoveries like that are what keep him in the field.
The program at UM trained bees to locate land mines and is now kickstarting a new app, which will automatically map out the health of the colony by recording a 30 second sound bite of the hive.