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1.16.20 – Club News

Club News written by Tom Mathison

The Rotary Club of Downtown Grand Rapids gathered at noon at the University Club for its regular meeting. President Neil Marchand called this meeting to order at noon by welcoming everyone and announcing the line-up of events and future speakers for the Club:
• Jan. 23rd – Leslie Hooker & Susan Wilcox – Co-Founders, Beer City Dog Biscuits @ University Club
• Jan. 30th – Steve Heacock – President/CEO, Grand Rapids Whitewater @ University Club
• Feb. 6th – Club 77 @ Emmanuel Hospice, hosted by Sara Lowe and Heather Duffy – RSVP by Feb. 2nd.

President Neil invited Tom Mathison to lead us in our song for today, “God Bless America”, followed by the invocation by Jeff Rogers.

Following lunch, Neil invited everyone to pull out their cell phones and text Matt Tiedgen, who had emergency surgery recently and is recovering at home. Neil also called attention to the list of Rotarians with birthdays in January or Rotary membership anniversaries in January – congratulations to all! Neil also mentioned the six members of our Rotary Club that were recently included in the Grand Rapids Business Journal list of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan: Stacie Behler, Julie Brinks, Doris Drain, Linsey Gleason, Rhonda Huismann, and Birgit Klohs. Congratulations to these outstanding Rotarians and outstanding leaders!

Neil invited Melissa Boivert to introduce guests and visiting Rotarians, and then invited Doris Drain to give us an update on the Service Above Self Dinner coming up – be sure to buy tickets and consider being a sponsor for this important event!

President Marchand invited Christine Lindeman to the podium to introduce today’s speaker. Mel Disselkoen. Christine mentioned that Mel was born on a farm in South Dakota, and has been a beekeeper for 48 years. Today he is a world-renowned Master Bee Keeper and the author of an important book on the OTS (On The Spot) method of Queen Rearing.

Mel mentioned that he was a beekeeper for sixteen years before the varroa mite invaded bee populations in America. He has seen the bee population reduced by 70% since that time – we are losing 50% of our bee colonies every year. But the OTS system has helped him maintain his bee population at stable levels. As a result, the OTS system has become very popular.

Mel said that beekeeping is migratory – on wheels, as hives are transported from the Midwest to Texas and California at different times of the year to pollinate fruit and vegetable crops. Sometimes the bees become in contact with more aggressive bees, and when he notices the bees becoming more aggressive, he eliminates the queen from the hive and replaces it with a different queen. He said it is ow possible to raise quality queen bees without grafting. Today queen bees cost about $40 each, but with the OTS method, he can raise the queens he needs without buying them.

The biggest problems for maintaining bee populations are the varroa mites and the use of pesticides. With his method, Mel can grow bees faster than the mites and pesticides can kill them.
Mel first presented his OTS method to the public in 2008, and he wrote his book on the topic in 2014, urged primarily by his Amish friends to document this method.

When asked if he has ever been stung by his bees, he said yes. The worst was 150 bites when a hive was accidentally placed on his foot and bees flew up his pantleg! After a time of Q&A, Mel concluded his presentation to warm, appreciative applause from the Rotary audience.

In honor of Mel’s time with us today, President Neil presented him with a certificate saying that a water filter has been donated in his name to a family in Nicaragua. He then rang the Rotary bell to adjourn the meeting.


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