Michael Bauer, MD, Provides Residents with Training to Get Started
Michael Bauer, MD, never imagined being a beekeeper. Growing up in Minnesota, his father raised bees and “I vowed never to be around bees,” said Dr. Bauer, a family medicine doctor with ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca.
But that changed after moving to Waupaca and beginning his medical practice. Dr. Bauer struggled with raising raspberries and complained to his dad about the lack of bees to pollinate his plants. Dr. Bauer’s dad responded by sending him two bee colonies. Today, Dr. Bauer has 150 bee colonies, sells the honey produced by his bees, and has helped communities in Nicaragua set up their own beekeeping businesses.
“I never imagined it would grow like this,” he said. “I easily spend 30 hours a week on the bees during the summer, but it’s been amazing.”
Three years ago, Dr. Bauer became involved with the Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners Inc. They were looking for a beekeeper to help educate farmers in Nicaragua looking to raise their own bees.
“The beekeeping industry in Nicaragua was devastated by the introduction of African bees as well as the unrest there,” he said. “Beekeeping is just resurging now. Nicaraguan honey is considered all organic so the demand is huge.”
The Nicaragua Bee Project provides interested residents with a bee colony and the education to raise their bees. Dr. Bauer made his first trip to Nicaragua and was amazed. Since then, he’s gone down three or four times a year, spending about two weeks at a time. Dr. Bauer is planning another trip later this month.
“I never thought I would be doing this,” he said. “Organizations, such as schools or towns, will contact me and then we work with someone in Nicaragua to check the site and make sure it’s ok and the people are really serious.”
From there, Dr. Bauer works with a local beekeeper to buy bees and the necessary equipment and supplies to raise the bees. “The local beekeeper also promises to check in monthly to see how things are going for a year,” he said.
Dr. Bauer shows local residents how to care for the bees and how honey is harvested. “Selling honey can really supplement a family’s income,” he said. “Raising bees doesn’t require a lot of land and they know that whatever honey produced will sell.”
While he’s a physician and Dr. Bauer’s wife is a Lutheran minister, he hadn’t considered mission work before, but that changed after his first trip to Central America. “Beekeeping is my passion and being able to share it with others and help them to make a real difference in their life has been huge,” Dr. Bauer said.
Dr. Bauer appreciates the support he and the organization received for the work in Nicaragua through its GoFundMe page and Facebook page. He also does local presentations about his efforts there, too.
“It is amazing to see what a difference these bees can make for the people living there,” Dr. Bauer said. “I never dreamed of this.”
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 34 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. The ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February. For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.