Beekeeper John Kooiman manages five hobby hives in Golden Valley, Minn.

The Problem is part of an article written by Maggie Ginsberg-Schutz from Farm Flavor, published June 24, 2015. Here is a link to the full article How Minnesota Pollinators Are Protected

The Problem

“Bees have been pollinating agriculture crops for a long time, and pollinating food sources for much of wildlife for millions of years. The problem is not with Mother Nature – Mother Nature can take care of itself,” says John Kooiman. A Minnesota beekeeper for more than 45 years, Kooiman spent 16 of those as a commercial migratory beekeeper managing 2,000 to 3,000 hives at a time. Today, he maintains just five hobby hives in Golden Valley.

“The problem is human beings. Our shortsightedness, our greed, and our failure to understand our interrelatedness and interconnectedness to the natural world.”

Update to 2018

Over the years it has only become more difficult to keep beehives healthy because of changes in available bee habitat, mass use of pesticides, and threat of varroa mites. I manage my ten healthy hives carefully and from them I am able to sell the best pure gourmet honey.

It takes a lot more smarts to take care of bees today, compared to 40 years ago. For me the biggest issue is Verona mites, then lack of habitat, and finally pesticides. But for some beekeepers the ranking could be the opposite.

Fashionable Hives

I put a lot of effort into my bees and want to celebrate with a little whimsy and color, so I paint them to be attractive as well as to keep them in good working condition. I think the neighbors appreciate the extra effort and the bees seem to be good with it too.

To learn more about John and his experience in beekeeping click more. It will help you understand how he is able to produce the best gourmet honey in Minnesota.

Winterizing the Hive

Every winter I wrap the hives in black cardboard which absorbs the heat of the sun keeps the bees snug and warm. The colder they get, the harder they will have to work to maintain the hive temperature and therefore they will eat more. When I harvest the honey I ensure that I leave enough to sustain them. Proper care goes a long way to maintain a healthy hives and bees that are less stressed.

Love of Dahlias

My other hobby is growing a few hundred dahlias and showing the blooms at the State Fair and other shows. You can learn more about this hobby from our club website:  Minnesota Dahlia Society or just mndahlia.org

The bees get nutrition from the pollen, which is why they visit the blooms; but dahlias don’t produce any nectar to make honey from. Pollen is a form of protein which the bees only need when raising young. Honey is a carbohydrate, which is all they need to live.

Honey straight out of the hive, no sweeteners added, no flavor processed out.

Call to Order


Please call me because I don’t check my email that often. But when you call, let me know if you filled out the form so I can use it as a reminder. Selling this way allows me to keep my prices lower than if I was at a farmers market.

For small orders, you can pick your order at my house in Golden Valley. I will give you the address and directions when you call. If ordering a box (12,  2lb jars or 24, 1lb  jars) or more, I may be able to deliver to your location.

I met John Kooiman through the Minnesota Dahlia Society. When I learned that he had been a commercial beekeeper I had plenty of questions for him, you see, I had always wanted to raise bees. John was more than happy to share his knowledge and even offered to mentor me if I was serious about becoming a beekeeper. John gave me the confidence to get started in this wonderful journey of beekeeping. He has provided a strong foundation for me through his guidance and technique. I am so grateful for John and all he has taught me and continues to teach me about bees.

Sandra Ward