Beekeeper says his 'sweeties' are thriving in Detroit - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Beekeeper says his 'sweeties' are thriving in Detroit

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An up close and personal look at Rich Wieske's "sweeties."   He says his honey bees are thriving in various Detroit neighborhoods. An up close and personal look at Rich Wieske's "sweeties." He says his honey bees are thriving in various Detroit neighborhoods.

Beekeeper Rich Wieske tends to tens of thousands of bees in Detroit.  He has dozens of buzzing hives in various neighborhoods, including one on Theodore Street on the city's east side.

"Bees have existed for over 50 million years the way they are now, and they did fine without us.  They'll do fine without us again," he said.

However, they're not doing fine in our current environment.  Bees are dying off at an alarming rate across the U.S.  That is bad news because we depend on them to pollenate about a third of the food supply on earth.

"They are disappearing, and the reasons for the disappearance are sort of multiple, but largely insecticides, the environment," Wieske explained.

He said the best thing people can do is plant linden trees.  We saw swarms of his bees hard at work taking pollen from cherry blossoms and returning to their hives.

He said his "sweeties," as he calls them, are doing well and thriving in an unlikely urban setting.

"There's just a whole environment.  When you open a hive, you actually have to sort of put yourself in bee world.  It's sort of like the zen of being a bee," Wieske remarked.

That zen, he said, proves honey bees are slow, calm and consciences creatures.  Scented smoke is used to keep them that way.  I'll admit I kept my distance, but the truth is they don't sting you unless they're threatened or disturbed.

"Wasps are much more predatory.  They are going to attack your hot dogs, your soda, whatever you have because they're just looking for the carbohydrates.  Honey bees out in nature, very rarely is anybody ever stung by a honey bee," Wieske said.

If you would like to learn more about bees, Wieske will be one of the presenters at this year's MI Earth Day Fest.  The event will be held from Friday, April 26 through Sunday, April 28 in downtown Rochester.  For more information, visit

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