Meet Ivonne Luchs: beekeeper and community builder

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Ivonne Luchs (Brandy Centolanza/WYDaily)
Ivonne Luchs (Brandy Centolanza/WYDaily)

A desire to be closer to nature and help a declining honeybee population has prompted Ivonne Luchs to start beekeeping in her backyard.

She’s been thinking of doing it for years, but decided to take it seriously following a cross-country road trip last year.

“I saw a lot of hives during our trip, and I also have a dear friend who has two hives who has been encouraging,” Luchs said.

Luchs started reading up on the subject, and began taking classes through Colonial Beekeepers Association. The group helped Luchs set up a nuc — or small colony of bees — and connected her with a mentor.

“The more I read, the more I found bees to be so fascinating,” said Luchs. “I wanted to do something to connect me to nature, but I also wanted my kids to see what I am doing to help out and [see] how they can help, too. It just seems like the right thing to do.”

Luchs dons her bee suit on a weekly basis to check on the nuc to ensure the bees are thriving. She feeds them a mixture of sugar and water.

“I just love being out there with them,” she said. “It’s incredible to watch the way they live and how they communicate with each other. I could watch them for hours, but I try not to disturb them too much. I just let them do their thing. It’s been a real learning experience — and a lot of fun.”

Luchs has been stung only once in the few short months since she’s had the nuc, but that hasn’t deterred her from beekeeping. Her goal is to help the bees survive through the winter and then, hopefully, they will start producing honey next spring.

“I’m really determined to make this work,” she said. “I would love to be able to share the honey with people. I have a friend who also bought a bee suit so she can help me harvest the honey.”

Being able to share her experience and knowledge to connect with those in her community has always been important for Luchs. She started an organic garden in her backyard this past year to share with neighbors, and built a Little Library box for the front of her home, where neighbors can share books with one another.

“The Little Library also came about from our trip out West,” Luchs explained. “Little Libraries are everywhere out there. A lot of books have cycled through the one I started here, a lot of self-help books, summer reads, magazines.”

Luchs has been pleased with the response.

“A lot of these things come from wanting to be a part of the community and feeling interconnected,” Luchs said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

She belongs to another community as a CrossFit enthusiast, which she has been doing for years, and joined yet another group of close-knit people as a nurse for the Peninsula Agency on Aging this past year.

“I really like my job,” Luchs said. “It’s so fulfilling, and the people there really are a part of my life.”

She’s just as happy having her colony of bees be a part of her life. Eventually, she hopes to purchase bee suits for her three sons so they can also be a part of the beekeeping process.

“Since I’ve started, a lot of people have expressed interest,” Luchs said. “People are curious enough to see what it’s all about, and that’s been exciting. I never thought I’d do this, but I’ve seen other people do it, and I’ve been inspired by it. My goal is for other people to be inspired by me doing it and want to do it too. Then maybe we will have all sorts of bee colonies out there.”