Midwest Honey Fest demonstrates different uses for bees

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HILL CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Dying bees doesn't just mean less honey.

Beeswax for sale at the Midwest Honey Fest. (KOTA TV)

It means fewer crops and less money, which can put a sting in the state's economy.

At the Honey Fest in Hill City, vendors demonstrated the different uses of wax and honey.

That includes medicine, food, and even candle-making.

Some beekeepers say for the last 10 to 15 years, the average rate of loss for honey bee colonies were as high as 40 to 50 percent every year when it's normally around 15 percent.
People use beeswax for hand creams and lip balm, or they ferment honey into mead.

"Beyond making honey, bees are very important for pollination. And so a lot of farmers all over the United States, they need bees to pollinate their almonds or apple trees and so beekeepers will take their bees across the country to whatever the farmer that needs it to pollinate those flowers so that they can produce the crop," Tom Repas said, a certified master beekeeper and member of Wannabee Hobby Beekeepers Club.

Jimmie Josephson is an artist from Newcastle, Wyoming.

She does encaustic painting, which is traditionally done with synthetic wax, but she prefers beeswax.

"I even have things embedded into the wax. You can't do that as easily with paint without more of a collage or gluing and stuff like that. This I get to paint it right into it. That's kind of what led me because I like the textural quality and had so much wax I was like well, why not?" Jimmie Josephson said, a fine and performing artist.

According to The Balance, bee pollination is worth $15 billion to the U.S. farming industry.

Although bees are so important to the economy and the environment, Repas says beekeeping was not always popular.

"When I first started out in the 1980s, beekeeping was not cool. I was in high school. 'What do you do for fun? I'm a beekeeper.' A lot of people are like yeah, I don't think so. But now, if you tell somebody you're a beekeeper they're like that's really cool. Tell me more about it," Tom Repas said.

If you'd like to learn more about beekeeping or bees in general, visit wannabeeclub.org.