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Archives for May 2015

Highland Bees selling packages for delivery at To Bee or Not To Bee

It’s that time again!

Tim Brod has just opened up his website for package and nuc sales! His packages will be Carniolans, while the nucs are Italians. You may select to have your package delivered here at the store. Tim currently has an expected delivery date in the last two weeks of April.

Tim’s nucs will not be delivered here. We are in the process of negotiating with a local supplier for nucs that will be delivered to our store. More information on those will be coming shortly. In the mean time, here’s a link to Tim’s bees, get ’em while you can.


Highland Bees Queens Available at To Bee or Not To Bee

We’re excited to announce that Highland Bees has made queens available through To Bee or Not To Bee!

The queens are not banked at the store, so we require a days notice for orders so we can retrieve the queens and bring them in to the shop.

The price for the queens is $35. After credit card, processing fees, syrup costs etc, we aren’t making any money from the queens, but offer this service as a convenience to our customers that can’t make the trip to Boulder where Tim sells them for $30.

David and Ashley

Medications and Treatments – Introduction

A gentleman came into the shop a few day ago looking for Apistan and Terramycin.  When I asked him if he had American foulbrood, or high mite levels, he said no, he just treats in the spring with Apistan and Terramycin as part of his regime.  When I didn’t sell him either, he left in a huff, and we probably lost a customer.  This got me thinking (again) about what chemicals we carry in the store, what our responsibilities are to our customers, and what our responsibilities are to the bees and the planet.

As beekeepers, we are in a unique position.  We see firsthand what the effects of pesticides and other chemicals are.  We see it directly in dead colonies when an applicator violates the label and sprays fields that our bees are working.  We see it indirectly in increasing numbers of absconding colonies, decreasing queen quality, and many other aspects of beekeeping where we are left scratching our head wondering what happened.

You see, many of these chemicals build up in beeswax over time to the point where the very foundation (pun intended) of the comb the bees raise their young in, store their food in, and spend a large portion of their lives on, is contaminated to the point that it is adversely affecting their health. Two of the biggest wax contaminants, fluvalinate and coumaphos, are applied by beekeepers to control Varroa mites. This is why Kim Flottum, who certainly knows his beeswax, will not use commercially available wax foundations and instead uses only plastic foundation, or foundationless frames in his hives.

In addition, many of these chemicals are bad for us, the beekeepers.  Fumigilin-B lasts a very long time in honey and is believed to cause birth defects in mammals (a group to which we belong).

Another, possibly harder to understand or even verify, reason we should think before we act is that we don’t fully understand the complex environment inside a beehive. There are many microbes, fungi, and insects that live in the hive alongside our bees, and while some of them are problematic, many are benign and could even be beneficial.  What happens when we apply an antibiotic to a Nosema infected colony?  We certainly get rid of the Nosema, but what beneficial microbes are we destroying in the process?  What are the alternatives?

As owners of a beekeeping-supply store, we are in a unique position to see beekeeping on a larger scale than the typical backyard beekeeper.  We attend beekeeping meetings all over the area and talk with customers from Fort Collins, to Colorado Springs.  We even get visits from Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming and New Mexico. In short, we talk to a lot of people about beekeeping.

We also have a unique responsibility.  Many people rely on us to answer questions about their bees. From questions about splits, to inspections, to what to do when their bees seem to be struggling.  We take this responsibility seriously.  We also understand that there are conflicting views about beekeeping, and animal stewardship and we aim to be as supportive of as many styles of beekeeping as we can.

Our goal is to help you raise the most successful, healthiest bees that you can. We don’t care if you run a top-bar hive to help out with pollinating your garden and are only interested in a little bit of honey or if you are a serious sideliner that needs some income from honey sales.  Your bees come first. If we can help you do that, we feel that the financial side of the business will take care of itself.

Over the next couple of months, we’ll be sharing our experience, research and opinions on various common pests and diseases that plague our bees.  We’ll share with you the conclusions that we’ve come to with regard to keeping your bees healthy when challenged by these things, so that we can start a healthy discussion about what chemicals we carry in the store, what chemicals we do not, and why.

Hopefully, the outcome will be a raised awareness and understanding of pest management, a healthier environment for your bees, and to some small degree, a healthier environment for us.


David and Ashley Baker

To Bee or Not To Bee

Cold weather feeding a top-bar hive

During times with the weather is cold enough that your bees must cluster, colder than approximately 55f, they are unable to travel anywhere to get food.  This includes the floor of the top-bar hive.

In order for them to access food, it has to be essentially in contact with the cluster (1/4 inch away or less!). If you feel your bees need resources for cold weather, you must hang any resources, such as fondant or pollen, for your top-bar hive right next to the cluster.

You can use cheese cloth, or another porous sack, like an onion bag to hang your feed. Form the fondant into a thin sheet resembling the shape of a comb, and staple the bag to a top-bar.  You then insert your feed bar right next to the cluster, so they can come in contact with the cluster if they need to.

For short cold periods, if your hive is established and there are stores present, this may not be necessary.  For newly installed packages, or swarms with no resources, it becomes more important.

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Bee update. This update is about Group 1 Packages and queens (not nucs)

Tim Brod’s Group 1 bees will be at the store for delivery on Sunday between 8:30am and 1:30PM. You should have received an email from Tim telling you what you should show up at. This time is based on your last name.

For Those who have ordered extra queens, Tim will have those available as well. For those of you who need queens, but did not preorder, Tim will have queens available for you as well.

We will be open for business at 8:00am on Sunday and have plenty of supplies for your last minute needs.

If there’s anybody who was wanting to attend Gregg’s splitting class at the apiary on Saturday, but were concerned about conflicting with your bee pick up, there are 5 spots available. If you would like to attend, RSVP through our contact us page, and be at To Bee or Not To Bee at 8:45am. We’ll take payment for the class and give you directions to the apiary.