Why does a Brewery care about bees?

Do Bees and Beer have a long history? Sort of… Some argue that honey was the first fermentable sugar that yeast enjoyed to give us a fermented drink, some 10,000 years ago. Fast forward to 2019, and you might think that hops require bees to pollinate. Well, they don’t. Hops are wind pollinated as they don’t have pollen that is directly accessible to bees. But 70% of ALL OTHER PRODUCE is pollinated by bees and other pollinators. So while a brewery really doesn’t care much for bees, brewery owners, staff, customers and community SHOULD.

One reason we built McFleshman’s the way we did was to create a true public house–a third space for the community to come together and share ideas. The best ideas–you know, the ones that shift paradigms and move mountains–usually start with a sketch on the back of a napkin in the local pub. Two years ago, Lawrence Professor Israel del Toro and Bobby Fleshman were chatting about Israel’s bee research at Lawrence over a pint, and the idea to build bee hives on the rooftop of the then future brewery was born. You may have seen Israel’s bee hexagons around town used to study urban bees.

Del Toro’s bee research uses these hexagon boxes to monitor urban bees.

Since then, the roof top apiary had been on our to-do list. Luckily, National Pollinator week is this week, so several weeks ago McF began the permitting steps to make the bee idea a reality. If you’d like to have urban bee hives, the city will notify your neighbors that you want to do this and if any of them request that you not put in an apiary, then the permit may get denied. This is where we found ourselves last week. The Post-Crescent’s Buzz (Ha! Pun not intended but so awesome!) ran a story about our denied permit and off to social media our fans flocked! There was such an outpouring of support for the urban hives and the Board of Health approved our appeal, so now we wait for the Common Council to officially decide 7p Wednesday if we will be able to build the bee hives on our rooftop.

What will we do with urban bees? Israel will use them in his research to educate the general public, and promote conservation and management practices that help our native pollinator species. McF will also be able to harvest some delicious honey that we can add to some beer.

To celebrate the importance of pollinators, McF is also participating in two Pollinator Week Events: Thursday Jessie Fritsch will be demonstrating Bees Wax Painting from 5-7p and Israel del Toro himself will discuss his pollinator project from 6-10p. You can find other events here: Pollinator Week

To finish off this week, we’ll be hosting our 600-Block Party on Sat. June 22nd and all tips will be donated to the Pollenablers of the Fox Cities. We’ll have bands all day (starting at noon) playing to celebrate Pollinator week and all the local businesses in the 600-Block of Appleton’s Downtown West End.

So Bee Kind, Bee Happy, and Have a beer!


115 South State Street - Appleton, Wisconsin
Tap Room Hours:
Tuesday - Friday: 3pm to 10pm
Saturday: 12pm to 10pm
Sunday: 1pm to 6pm