By Tim Kowols
An apiary on Washington Island will begin a research project next year that could have an impact on the local beekeeping industry. Sweet Mountain Farm owner Sue Dumpke began her apiary on Washington Island about 10 years ago. In that time, she has noticed the resiliency of her Russian bees to handle cold temperatures and their infatuation with local lavender fields. Now she has 75-180 colonies producing between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds of honey a year in addition to the 100 colonies she sells to Wisconsin beekeepers. With help from researchers from UW-River Falls, Dumpke hopes to see the health benefits of lavender for her Russian honeybees as it relates to weight gains, honey yields, and winter loss.
Dumpke says interns will help her keep track of the health of Russian honeybees for the research project over the next two years.