Fred has been a hobby beekeeper since 1999 with 2 to 55 hives depending on the time of year! He lightheartedly calls his hobby Twin Bee Apiaries and endeavors to include his entire family in his passion.
He is member of the Lincolnland Beekeepers Association, the Illinois State Beekeepers Association, a charter member of the Illinois Queen Initiative and an IQI trained queen rearer. He believes strongly in the mission of the IQI which is described below.
Fred has been rearing queens since 2008 for personal use and, then in 2012, to assist other beekeepers in his local association. His genetics’ focus is on feral survivor stock with a gentle disposition and hygienic behavior; strong spring build up; winter survival; and good honey production.
Fred added VSH breeder stock to his bee genetics pool starting in 2011. He assists in teaching beekeeping classes for the Lincolnland Beekeepers Association. Fred serves as one of the mentors to new beekeepers and does extensive local community service work educating the public on beekeeping.
Fred Gerberding - THE BEE WHISPERER
By nature, Fred is a quiet man who usually doesn't share his opinions unless asked. He reads about bees or works with his “girls” (the worker bees) on daily basis. In the bee yard, he is magic. New beekeepers who are fortunate enough to work with him, call him a “bee whisperer” which he finds humorous.
What makes Fred different from the majority of beekeepers is his demeanor. By trade, he is an ASE Master School Bus mechanic and is always analyzing how things work. He has a strong work ethic and understands the need for production and deadlines, but, when in a bee hive, he never hurries. His focus is always on the work of the bees.
Fred has the strength to lift heavy hive boxes and pull “glued down” frames so slowly and smoothly that the bees barely lift their heads which is good for both the bees and the beekeeper. His slow, methodical movements create an aura of calmness that is eloquently understood by the bees. It is rare that Fred finds the need to wear protective clothing around his “girls”. On the rare occasion when it is necessary, it is quickly obvious that he is annoyed that something has upset his bees. If he is working with another beekeeper, especially a newer one, it is not uncommon to hear his quiet voice reminding them to “slow down”, “don’t hurry”, or “try to be gentler”.
Fred knows that less disruption of the bees equals a better hive which will ultimately result in a stronger colony and superior honey. This must be true because our honey sales are primarily by word of mouth with a majority being repeat clientele. Most customers claim our honey tastes better than other local honey. We believe it is because the bees add a little “bee love” for the Bee Whisperer!
A note about our family business:
Twin Bee Apiaries
What started out as a hobby beekeeper joke about locating the bee twins (as most honey bees in a hive look similar), the name kind of stuck like a nick-name label given to a child on a play ground. Plus, it fit beekeeper Fred’s sense of humor. Fred started with 2 hives that soon grew to six because he captured some swarms and had to keep a large extended family in gift honey.
Then he discovered the Illinois State Fair Honey Show, learned about how to enter and what the different traditional honey products were. Being of a curious nature, he began entering in different categories and started fine tuning his preparation to improve the quality of his entries. Due to the generosity of other experienced beekeepers offering advice and direction, Fred is now a regular exhibitor at the State Fair. He has yet to enter in all the categories offered, but there is always next year…….
Illinois Queen Initiative
To raise and use local queens and bees that have better survival and productivity under Illinois conditions. Locally selected genetics are better adapted to local climatic conditions and local biological conditions, including disease organisms. Using local genetics will slow down the introduction of diseases and problems not yet appearing in our apiaries and will not subject colonies to long distance shipping stress which weakens disease resistance. Conducting ongoing measurement testing for varroa and other diseases and utilizing integrated pest management techniques in addition to the introduction of selected genetics, we will continue to strive for better mite and disease resistance.