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Honey, I’m home: City engineers adopt new beehives

Honey, I’m home: City engineers adopt new beehives

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The City of Madison has been abuzz this week after receiving its first-ever set of beehives in a bid to better care for the area’s ecosystem.  

The Engineering Division worked with Operation Fresh Start to create custom beehive boxes. The bees were sourced with the help of a local bee equipment supply company. The hives are now located in a non-residential area near Nesbitt Road and Maple Grove Drive, where the bees will have access to 10 acres of forage habitat and several prairie ponds. 

“There are lots and lots of bees out there that aren’t useful to us because we don’t get their honey. But those are the pollinators that when you read (about) the decimation of insects, they’re the ones out there that are getting hit the hardest,” said Todd Chojnowski of Engineering Operations.

City engineers will host the hives for the summer in celebration of National Pollinator Week, furthering the city’s mission to promote healthy pollinator habitats as a “Bee City.” Madison has been a part of the Bee City USA program since 2017. It joins other municipalities including Appleton and Elm Grove.

“Our purpose here is not to pollinate food crops necessarily, but to ensure the health of our native plants that we have here,” said Maddie Dumas, Engineering’s greenway vegetation coordinator. “The more we pollinate, the greater seed production we get. The greater seed production we get, the more native plants we’re going to have.”

In addition to hosting the hives, the Engineering Division schedules timed mows and manages invasive species. The team also plants native plants and seeds in ponds, greenways and gardens. 

The idea to host beehives had a simple origin. Engineering’s Public Information Officer Hannah Mohelnitzky stated that while the city had always wanted to do this, equipment and lack of experience was a barrier to launching the project.

Then Chojnowski, an experienced beekeeper, became involved and community partner Operation Fresh Start was brought on to make the plan a reality.

While the Engineering Division will be caring for the hives over the summer, the city hopes to keep them. The bees will be hosted onsite over the winter with honey and pollen provided. If needed, the hives will be moved to a garage. 

“We want to do anything that we can to support the bees and their longevity and make sure that they have everything that they need,” Mohelnitzky said. “The bees are here to stay.”

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