Dean and Barb Johnson with their bee hives. (KSCJ photo)

Those attending the Plymouth County Fair this week are seeing in person how bees work.

Dean and Barb Johnson have set up two working bee hives with glass sides so fairgoers can see the bees making honey. The Johnsons got started in the bee business seven years ago at their home near Merrill.

“We had a big garden and unwanted bees to pollinate the garden. And so we started with a couple three hives and our first year we had three hives and we got 300 pounds of honey and we were just after pollination so now what are you gonna do with all this honey? So that got to be something for Barb to do is takes it to the farmers market in Le Mars and sells it,” Dean says.

The bees enter the hives through tubes extending out of the hives to the outside of the Round Barn where the hives are located.

“You can see ’em outside above the old antique tractors that will be flying around when the sun comes out a little bit more,” Johnson says, “but there’s two separate hives and two queens and two colonies and they go their separate ways when they get outside and they’ll fly two to three miles to gather nectar and pollen from flowers around town.”

There’s an added benefit to watching the bees — you can register to win a free jar of honey when you stop by to see the bees at work.

(By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)