700,000 Bees Invade Hidden Oaks Nature Center

Did you know that at peak season, there will be 700,000 bees at Hidden Oaks Nature Center? Well, not all at once as they’ll be in the hives making honey and out pollinating. But still, that is a lot of bees. It’s up to Pete Soltesz and Kim Kulton from Bees All About It to make sure the nearly ¾ of a million honey bees are happy and healthy.

Pete and Kim are members of the Cook DuPage Beekeepers Association and are the new beekeepers to the hives at Hidden Oaks Nature Center. Longtime beekeeper Marge since retired last year after several years of beekeeping. Pete and Kim bring over 20 years’ experience together and re excited at the opportunity to educate Bolingbrook all about the importance of bees, while producing delicious honey that is sold at Bolingbrook Park District community centers.

“We had a group of kids that visited us at one of the classes here and it was a great experience to talk to them about bees,” said Pete. “It just fueled their imagination and hopefully one of those kids might grow up to study biology or science.”

Bees are extremely important to our food chain. Nearly 2/3 of everything we eat has been pollinated by bees including vegetables, almonds, and melons. It’s very easy to help when it comes to conserving the bee population.

“Simple things like planting a pollinator garden with cone or sun flowers can go a long way,” said Pete. “But if you really want to help, plant a tree. One tree produces the same amount of pollen as seven aces of wildflowers.”

It’s also important to know the difference between the different types of bees. If you have a hive near your house, don’t just call the exterminator, you can call the Cook DuPage Beekeepers Association. They’ll help you identify them and may even come out to help relocate them.

In case you were wondering (we were too), Pete is normally stung 4-5 times a week. If you add that up over his 20 or so years of beekeeping, it’s safe to estimate that he’s been stung over 1,200 times. *Note: it’s important to know that with proper personal protective equipment, you can reduce he number of times you’re stung. Pete commented that he’s normally stung on his hands, because he uses thinner gloves so he has a better feel while working.

Yes, there are a lot of bees. While you are at Hidden Oaks, you may only see a few bees here and there. That’s because they are doing their work. If bees raise your anxiety, it is good to know that they are a busy group and won’t sting unless agitated. “You may see one by the dandelions, but you’re not going to see a bunch of them unless you’re right in front of the hive,” said Kulton. “But even then, they’re busy and will fly past or bounce off you if you cross paths.”

A few times a week, you will see Pete and Kim while at the hives, checking the health of the hive, making sure the queen bee is laying eggs, and extracting the honey. They welcome any and all visitors to ask questions and learn all about the process. Hidden Oaks Nature Center is now open n Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am-4:00 pm. For more information, please visit www.bolingbrookparks.org/hiddenoaks.