(La Porte County, IN) - A honey maker from La Porte County is blaming last week’s mosquito spraying by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for half of his bees dying.
Phil Janik, Jr., also known as “The Hoosier Bee Man,” said losing that many bees will put a dent in his fall honey crop. He’s working hard to try and get his remaining bees in his 75 hives, at his home near Michigan City, to repopulate fast enough for him to have a decent harvest of honey in the spring. “Trying to get it built back up is my mission right now,” Janik said.
The September 22 spraying of mosquitos was in response to a human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in La Porte County and suspected cases of EEE in horses in La Porte, LaGrange and Kosciusko counties, according to DNR. The aerial spraying took place over some 375,000 acres in parts of La Porte, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Elkhart and Noble counties, DNR said.
Janik said about half of the dead bees never returned to their hives as they always do prior to nightfall after the 5 p.m. spraying began. He said the rest of the bee casualties were from heat exhaustion after closing the hives several hours later to keep any of the pesticides from getting inside.
Janik said he was informed in advance about the spraying but felt not enough prior notice was given for him to adequately prepare for protecting his bees. "It’s like the old saying. A day late and a dollar short. I’m a dollar short right now,” he said.
All of his hives were ready to start collecting what promised to be a strong fall honey crop. “I had them geared up and ready for the winter. I had honey supers on everything trying to capture that last blast of goldenrod and aster honey coming in for the winter,” Janik said.
Janik, 57, grew up in Valparaiso but after retiring in Florida moved back to Northwest Indiana about five-years ago to help take care of his parents. He then started making honey because of his interest in bees dating back to when he was a child. Janik said he and his brother, as a game, used to catch and place bees in glass jars and whoever got stung was punched in the arm.
His bees usually produce about 6,000 pounds of honey annually but without much of a fall crop the volume this year could be reduced by as much as 50-percent. Most of his sales are from people showing up at his doorstep while the rest is done online at hoosierbeeman.com.
“It’s not a good situation but I’ll get through it,” he said.
DNR officials have been contacted by HometownNewsNow.com but could not be immediately reached for a response to the allegations.