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Mann Lake holds its annual 'Bee Day' for beekeeping enthusiasts

Beekeepers and bee enthusiasts made their way to Hackensack, Minn., for Mann Lake's annual Bee Day.

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Mann Lake Limited holds its annual "Bee Day" in May each year, during which beekeeping enthusiasts can pick up bees to fill their hives. Photo taken May 8, 2021, at Hackensack, Minn. (Emily Beal / Agweek)

It’s not often in the sleepy town of Hackensack, Minn., that you will see a steady procession of vehicles waiting to enter a business location before 8 a.m. But for Mann Lake Limited, this has become a yearly occurrence. The reason for the streaming line of blinkers? Mann Lake’s annual Bee Day.

“We’ve got hundreds of people coming in today to pick up thousands of packages of bees that they will take home later today and install in their hives,” said Ed Waggoner, a member of Mann Lake’s sales team.

Mann Lake Limited was founded over 30 years ago and acts as a one-stop shop for anything poultry producers and beekeepers may need. From chicken feeders to honeycombs, Mann Lake has it all.

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Steven Olson (L) and Bruce Dahl (R), have been in the beekeeping industry for over fifty-five years together. Photo taken May, 8, 2021, at Hackensack, Minn.(Emily Beal / Agweek)

Mann Lake received over 2,000 packages of bees to distribute to customers on Bee Day. The bees were pre-ordered by customers earlier in the year. The bees that are not picked up on Bee Day will be mailed to the customers residing in the Midwest. One package contains three pounds of worker bees and one queen bee. Waggoner estimates that there are anywhere from 10,000 to 12,000 bees per package.

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“They’re a very small animal, so it takes a lot of them to work out to three pounds of bees,” Waggoner said.

The bees were loaded onto trailers and transported from California to Minnesota, with the drivers stopping only for gas.

The annual event gathers new and old beekeepers alike, many making quite a drive to pick up their bees.

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A Mann Lake employee helps load a customer's vehicle with bees. Photo taken May, 8, 2021, at Hackensack, Minn.(Emily Beal / Agweek)

Bruce Dahl and Steve Olson have been making the drive to Hackensack from Fargo, N.D., for years. The two have a deep-rooted friendship built off beekeeping.

“My dad was a commercial beekeeper and he needed help. Our neighbor boy recommended Steve. Steve was about 15 at the time and I was a little bit younger, so we started helping my dad with the bees in the summer,” Dahl said. “About 50 years later, we both retired from our jobs, so we thought we would take up our childhood employment of beekeeping again.”

The two have about five hives currently and make honey to give to their family and friends. They also give some away at events such as their church’s bazaar.

“It’s just a joy to be able to share something with somebody,” Dahl said.

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Steven Olson (L) and Bruce Dahl (R), have been in the beekeeping industry for over fifty-five years together. Photo taken May, 8, 2021, at Hackensack, Minn.(Emily Beal / Agweek)

With over 55 years of experience and knowledge about beekeeping, Dahl and Olson are able to get their product ready for consumption in a short period of time.

“We have a barrel set up where we heat the honey, we jar it and we filter it. All within a day or two,” Olson said.

The popularity of honeybees drastically increased due to the pandemic, making Mann Lake’s bee orders go up over the past two years.

“People couldn’t go do things, so they got more into things in their own backyards. Unfortunately, we had to go through a pandemic, but one of the positives is that people did get back in touch with nature. They got into their backyards and started doing things outdoors again,” Waggoner said.

Dahl and Olson have seen the popularity increase right before their eyes.

“It’s amazing to see the variety of things here and the interest. Back in our older beekeeping days there wasn’t that much enthusiasm for it. You wouldn’t see this many people gathering,” Dahl said.

For the new beekeepers, their first Bee Day is often full of emotions.

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“They’re like a kid with a new toy. There’s a lot of anxiousness, there’s a lot of excitement and it’s a brand new endeavor for them,” Waggoner said.

Emily grew up on a small grains and goat farm in southern Ohio. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a career in ag journalism with Agweek. She enjoys reporting on livestock and local agricultural businesses.
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