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Source: Viktor Chikan, 785-532-6807, chikan@k-state.edu
Pronouncer: Chikan is CHICK-an
Photo available. Contact media@k-state.edu or 785-532-2535.
News release prepared by: Calin Cooney, 785-532-2535, media@k-state.edu

Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010

K-STATE CHEMISTRY PROFESSOR FINDS SWEET REWARD WITH HOBBY

MANHATTAN -- Viktor Chikan has a large fascination with minute objects.

Chikan, assistant professor in physical chemistry at Kansas State University, uses nanoscale devices, developing tools to manipulate materials small enough to fit at the atomic or molecular scale.

But there's more buzz in Chikan's life than nanoscale devices. He also is a local beekeeper and manages several honeybee hives, harvesting them for honey.

"I started about three years ago when we moved here from Berkeley," Chikan said. "My grandpa harvested honeybee hives, and I remember being fascinated by how they live and how organized they are. It's become an addiction."

Chikan has hives at various locations around town.

"I keep my hives in different places because I don't want to overload a particular area, " he said. "It's also nice to have honey from different areas."

The different locations mean he can produce honey with different tastes. In the city the hives mostly pollinate the trees. Outside town there are fewer trees and more flowers. The nectars produce a different taste and color of honey depending on the location.

In addition to beekeeping, Chikan also is a local volunteer honeybee swarm catcher. He locates swarms that settle near public areas, and then extracts and relocates the colony to a new, safe location.

There are many methods of relocating colonies but Chikan's is unique. "I have a rare technique of placing a box with pheromone inside to attract the honey bees."

The bees can detect the pheromone up to three miles away. His box has a hole in the bottom, and after some time the entire colony climbs inside to begin their new colony. He then simply seals and transports the box to its new destination. That destination usually leads back to his own colonies where he will harvest the captured swarm for his own honey.

Many consider his hobby risky, but Chikan says there's little to it.

"Beekeeping is like a marriage between the beekeeper and the bees. If you can keep your bees happy, they can produce honey for you," he said. "The primary reason I'm a beekeeper is for the honey -- it's a sweetreward."