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A honey of a program

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Beekeepers keep things humming at Hudson Gardens

By Ramsey Scott

Hudson Gardens is abuzz with several thousand new residents.

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Members of the community beekeeping program installed several new hives at the honeybee garden on Saturday. The 16 volunteer beekeepers help manage the gardens’ 17 hives.

“Beekeeping is a blast. … In fact, my family has gotten to the point that if someone asks me about bees, my family starts saying, ‘Oh no, we’re going to be here for hours,’ ”said Marca Engman, who has a hive at Hudson Gardens for the second summer in a row.

Engman became enthralled with bees after reading the best-selling book “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd.

“They’re fascinating little insects. They’re much more sophisticated than people give them credit for,” Engman said. 

Engman and others who have taken the gardens’ beekeeping classes not only tend the hives but also educate visitors about the industrious and productive insects.

“When you’re a part of the mentorship program, you have to give back to the community. We help do the maintenance for the apiary. … You participate in meet-the-beekeeper Saturdays, and we have classes coming in May that we get to teach,” Engman said. 

Volunteer Jeremy Hutaff said he and his wife became interested in beekeeping when they noticed the decline in the area’s bee population and wanted to help. 

“We started looking into it to see what we could do to combat and help our bee population come back,” Hutaff said. “There’s a lot of interest here, and I think that’s because of our background in Colorado agriculture and promoting more natural stuff.”

The beekeepers and the bees play a key role, said Melanie Feddersen, manager of education at Hudson Gardens.

“The pollination is so important for the gardens,” Feddersen said. “The gardeners will tell you that’s why our gardens are so great, because we have those bees there to help pollinate.”

LaDonna Baertlein, who is in her first year in the community beekeeping program, is looking forward to seeing all her time and effort pay off. 

“It was a great sense of accomplishment from a six-month process. I ordered the bee package in December, bought my hive in January, and took the classes over the winter,” Baertlein said. “I’ve been anticipating the arrival of the bees, and it was so rewarding to have the installation go well and be able to now look forward to a season of learning to be a beekeeper.”

Hudson Gardens’ first meet-the-beekeeper event of the season, at which guests can ask questions of the beekeepers and see the apiary, will be from  9:30 to 11:30 a.m. May 17.

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine. Check www.columbinecourier.com for updates.