"Getting Buzzed" Bosco’s Bees discusses the health of pollinators in St. Clair County

“Most of our fruits and vegetables require pollination and 1 out of 3 bites of food requires pollination,” Anthony Bosco says. “Fewer bees in St. Clair County translates into less food.” 

Anthony Bosco and his wife Amanda are co-owners of Bosco’s Bees, established in December 2018 when Amanda bought Anthony a beginner honeybee kit as a Christmas present. The couple caught the bug and purchased two prolific Italian nucleus hives in May 2019. 

They now manage over 100 boxes in their apiary in Ira Township, with the larger hives holding up to 50,000 bees each. 

“Caring for honeybees is a lot different than caring for chickens, cows, or pigs,” Bosco says. “They are animals and require substantial work. We keep them healthy, sheltered, and fed.” 

Anthony Bosco first grew interested in bees when hunting on farmland when he was young. While watching the insects, he desired to know how they lived. 

“Seeing them always made me curious about how it worked and of course, the honey is a big bonus,” Bosco says. “Producing the only edible food by an insect that never goes bad is incredible and inspiring.” 

Drone shot of Bosco's Bees Apiary.

Many apiaries have disappeared in St. Clair County which attributes to the cost of keeping bees and the challenge of maintaining the health of the hives due to the varroa mite, Bosco says. The mite has wreaked havoc on apiaries across the country including Michigan, crippling honeybees and reducing their body weights and lifespans. 

Michigan has also seen a decline in its native pollinators, with a 61% decline in abundance and a 33% drop in the number of species from 2004-2018. A potential cause for the decrease is attributed to extreme weather events, a product of climate change, and habitat destruction. 

Loss of both the honeybees and native bees has impacted the $18 billion agriculture industry that relies on the insects for the pollination of crops. Michigan is particularly susceptible to the declines as the state has many pollinator-dependent specialty crops. While a protection plan for pollinators in Michigan has been created, the Michigan Pollinator Protection Plan (MP3), apiaries like Bosco’s Bees are crucial to ensuring farmers’ crops in the county get pollinated.

Over the years, Bees have lost a few hives to the varroa mite but have never dealt with any other diseases. They overwinter 90% of their bees each winter, above the national average. They attribute their success to using naturally occurring oils and acids to treat problems before and after their honey season and with continuous monitoring of hive health, along with hard labor and money. 
Bosco's Bees honey bees.
“Beekeeping can be very challenging physically and mentally,” Bosco says. “Physically you’re lifting 50-90 lb boxes of honey to do inspections and when removing the surplus honey. It’s mentally challenging because you are always trying to stay ahead of the bees’ needs. In beekeeping you must be proactive, reacting to bees’ needs doesn’t work out well.” 

After years of research and determination, Anthony feels that he and Amanda have a greater understanding of how insects function. The couple’s proudest accomplishments are how far they have come from that fateful Christmas morning and their role in helping the local ecosystem. 

Bosco’s Bees connect with their customers via social media and have grown their small business through word of mouth. 

“We love our customers and our service to the community is one of our highest priorities,” Bosco says. “It is hard to come by good service these days, but we hold ourselves to a high standard with our small business.” 

The Bosco’s three daughters are active in the business and help with routine chores such as painting boxes and extracting honey. They hope their children will continue with Bosco’s Bees into the future. They also hope to create an interest in bees among other people. 
Amanda and Anthony Bosco with their daughters Alivia, Alayna and Ava.
“I would highly suggest to anyone that has the slightest interest in raising bees to give it a shot,” Bosco says. “It is such a rewarding and enjoyable hobby. The satisfaction, the smells, the service they provide, and the awesome honey they make are just a few reasons. We even offer bees to start your own beekeeping hobby and sell out every year. We provide 5-frame nucleus hives or nucs.”

Bosco stresses the importance of maintaining pollinators in the county. 

“We need to take care of our bees and keep them happy and healthy,” Bosco says. ”It’s also a huge benefit to everyone’s gardens and flowers.”  

To help native pollinators, he recommends not using insecticides, allowing a small area to grow naturally, and planting wildflowers. He also recommends not taking all the leaves in the fall which provide cover to hibernating bees, and not killing the dandelions in the spring.
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Read more articles by Leslie Cieplechowicz.

Leslie Cieplechowicz is a photographer and writer who developed her crafts by working the streets of Detroit as a paramedic and shooting old, historical buildings she found on her runs. Her love of creating unique imagery led her across the state, then the United States, then globally, where she recently finished shooting in the country of Czechia, documenting its lively culture, friendly people, and ornate architecture. She currently works as an instructor after leaving the road and spreads her love of photography to her students. Her book, Detroit Revealed: A Different View of the Motor City, features obscure and amazing hidden gems of the city which is sometimes portrayed as unapproachable.