With anywhere from six to 24 million bees in his backyard, Ron Wehr might be the biggest livestock producer in Washington County. For the month of March, the honeybee keeper has been spending his Tuesday nights at the Kirkwood Regional Center teaching a class on the art of beekeeping.
Wehr has been teaching his four-week long class for 15 years and teaches everything from installation to packaging to harvesting honey. The class of 15 is full and spends two hours every Tuesday evening talking about bees and learning how to take care of them from a local expert.
“I enjoy talking about bees,” he said, explaining he’s been keeping bees for over 30 years. Before he got into raising bees, Wehr was raises hogs, sheep and runs his own construction businesses on his farm in West Chester. He said his beekeeping started as a hobby that never ended.
“I needed another hobby,” he said of his decision to start keeping. “I like woodworking and I was scared of bees so I don’t know why I did that but I just started doing it.”
On his farm, Wehr has 300 colonies that each host anywhere from 20,000-80,000 bees. He said because word has gotten out that bees are slowly dying off, more and more people are starting to tend to them and that makes him excited for the future.
Wehr is a member of the Southeast Iowa Beekeeper group which means once a year for an annual meeting and three field days throughout the year. He said the 45-member group is pretty good sized, as the Iowa Honey Producers group has grown to over 1,500 members.
“Sometimes I wonder why I did it, but what else am I going to do?” he said with a laugh.