We had a great kick off to the 2021 Farmers Market season in Downtown Ft. Collins yesterday. Great to see all of you that were ready to stock up on honey after a long cold winter season. The clear winners yesterday were our wildflower and lavender honey!
This was also our first offering of plants of two new hardy lavender varieties. Lavendula intermedia “Phenomenal” and Lavendula intermedia “Sensational”. These are being potted up now for future transplanting into our field. They are available now at both 2 1/2 ” or 4″ pots. Hardy to zone 4. We think you’ll like them…
I’m receiving many emails and calls about spring nucleus colony pick ups… Unfortunately we’re all going through this very unusual spring weather together. I just mentioned the other day that 50 degrees seems to be the new normal in working with these colonies. I’m also getting very creative in placing queen cells and virgins during the periodic rain/snow storms. Not good. Usually this cooler weather arrives the first of May, clears up and sunshine returns. But this May I’ve seen only 1 good day a week to work with the bees. Luckily they are handling these extremes well and continue to build up. However it makes additional queen rearing for additional nucleus colonies difficult.
I make mention of queen rearing because queen quality in your nucleus colony is my focus. Unlike many others who offer nucleus colonies with CA queens I refuse. I have 20 plus years of quality selection in my apiary with less than 3% annual winter losses. I know how to provide quality colonies… Each year I raise enough extra queens to overwinter to provide for all the spring nucs. This takes some of the risk in cool spring weather away knowing those queens are available. However you’ll remember my last posting in the fall about the black bear sow with 2 cubs. They hit my queen yard hard over 5 evenings. Now I’m trying to make up for those losses with difficult spring weather. No excuses, just working daily to get these colonies ready for you to set up in your apiaries and enjoy this wonderful activity.
I have begun making calls to those that are at the top of the list. Depending on where you are on my list you’ll be getting a choice of dates and times for pick up. Right now we’re starting the last week of May and going into the first and second weeks of June… Email for any questions or concerns.
It’s time for an update on how our 2021 spring 5 frame nucleus colonies are coming along. They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words. This was yesterday here in northern CO. So far there have been minimal days for foraging this month. Snow, cold, wind and rain. Did I mention snow, cold, rain, wind? Not much incentive for the colonies to build up yet coming out of winter.
Fortunately we’ve been through this scenario many times over the years… in fact we can still receive a good blanket of snow for Mothers Day. Never the less, we still anticipate 5 frame nucleus colonies being delivered towards the end of May, first of June at this time. Again, we’re dependent on mother natures schedule vs. our own. Hopefully we’ll see a warming trend as May approaches and can give you all a more accurate delivery window.
Time to kick off the 2021 season with the last offering of our 5 frame honey bee nucleus colonies. As many of you know I have been trying to retire from beekeeping after 42 years. But with any passion it’s hard to give up completely and I have surplus colonies for this coming season.
These remaining 2021 nucs are the best of the best. As many of you know queen rearing has been my passion. My breeder colonies were developed and selected over 40 years with semen and genetics from all across the US and USDA Research Station in Baton Rouge. Productive, hardy, gentle temperaments, and resistant to many diseases. However they are somewhat limited in number this year. I’m making them available in 5 frame woodenware. These woodenware set ups are my single favorite hive configuration for building up nucleus colonies, making annual splits, as well as swarm catching. Both 5 frame deep or 5 frame medium configurations are available.
As in previous years the order process begins in January to get on the list. Depending on our spring weather the colonies are ready for pick up the middle of May – the first of June. Each 5 frame nuc contains 3 frames bees, brood, queen, 1 frame honey/pollen, and 1 frame of foundation for the bees ability to expand. They are screened for pick up. Extra boxes are also available to allow internal feeders or expansion. Contact us for additional information or to get on our list.
I think we can all agree that 2020 has proven to be the most challenging year many of us have faced. Lets start with the Covid-19 early year kick off. Who knew what to expect as the beginning of this pandemic exploded. Luckily with all the precautions and leadership from Larimer County Extension we were able to complete a Downtown Farmers Market season May – October which allowed continued sales of our chemical free honey products and lavender plants. Although limited to vendors with “essential” products in the spring we saw both the numbers of vendors and products increase throughout the summer. Thanks to you all for your continued support and trust in our products.
We also produced the largest number of 5 frame nucleus colonies and equipment deliveries in May/June that we have ever offered. In spite of the pandemic, many of you were committed to following through to becoming beekeepers and we appreciate your interest and confidence in our bees. Locally adapted, managed for production and hardiness, I know how to provide good bees.
After a great summer, it became very apparent that we were entering another drought cycle. It seems each year residents in Ft. Collins are reminded how serious living in the mountains and foothills of the front range of Colorado can be. August 13, 2020 was the beginning of another record breaking fire west of Ft. Collins. For many months it was impossible to work outside with the bees. Smoke, ash, wind. Finally the Cameron Peak fire is 100% contained after becoming the largest wildfire in CO history.
Due to the drought in the foothills, we saw firsthand the ripple down effects on local wildlife. While currents, berries, fruits, grasses provide area forage in normal years, this fall they were dried up and very scarce. Even water sources. That transferred in my case to area black bears working their way east towards and through the city of Ft. Collins in search of food to ready for winter.
My bee yards have been in the same location since 1981 and I have never been effected by bears. But late in August, 2020, I had my first encounter. A sow with 2 cubs visited 5 evenings. A little sample the first evening. More serious each night after that. That transferred into electric fence installations, trail cams, and no sleep trying to protect these bee colonies. I can testify that bears like the adult bees, larva, wax, honey, pollen and leave the wood in toothpick form. Thanks to the Colorado Division of Wildlife for their help in the electric fencing and their efforts to help prevent additional damage and loss in my apiary.
With most of 2020 behind us we are looking forward to 2021. The bees are now packed up to spend their protected Colorado winter. Additional information on 2021 5 frame nucleus colonies will soon be available.
It doesn’t get any better than this! Our colonies provided a wonderful summer harvest of award winning comb honey. This is a delicious light flavored comb honey with light wax capping drawn out during the abundant summer nectar flow. Those that seek the very best in comb honey will find it available throughout the summer season at the Ft. Collins Downtown Farmers Market held each Saturday at the Larimer County Court House until the end of October…
Our bees are looking the best ever this spring… We’re waiting now on some continued warm queen mating weather to get these nucleus colonies off to their new yards. I’ll be installing the 3rd round of queens cells in the next couple days.. Hopefully this cold /rainy weather ends shortly. At least it’s not snow.
For those of you on our order list we are still on target for end of May delivery. For those of you that wish you had gotten on our list we have a few additional colonies available due to a cancellation caused by the Covid-19 lay offs. “Contact Us” for availability…
This was the first look at the overwintering nucleus colonies. I love these candy boards that are placed on the nucs as they are packed up for winter in October. This allows any excess moisture to be wicked away from the colony and provides an “in house winter activity” for the bees as they go through a variable 6 month CO winter.
Hopefully this last winter cold spell will move on and we can look forward to the first fruit tree and dandelion bloom to know spring has come.
I was also able to get 4 trays of 32 Lavandula Angustifolia plugs that I started last summer moved up into 4″ pots after spending the winter in AZ. This gave these small cuttings an extra 6 months of growth… This will really help with the early requests for plants that are usually in limited supply until June. Either “contact us” or look for us at the Downtown Farmers Market starting in May…
This is when and where I kick start the spring season with updates on the overwintered success of the nucleus and production bee colonies… I’m seeing a lot of early pollen coming into the colonies on those rare 40-50 degree days… Then back to CO winter with snow and cold… This is what makes it difficult to be more accurate in the readiness of our nucleus colonies that we make ready each spring. BUT this season we have a new obstacle to deal with!
COVID-19. While all of CO is under the Shelter in Place the bees are going about their typical business as usual. Seeking pollen and nectar for the next brood cycles. Luckily they are not impacted at all.
But there now exists some new obstacles for the beekeepers. Because of that, I’d like to make some recommendations and suggestions for those that are on the list for 2020 equipment and 5 frame nucleus colonies.
Previously it was possible to pick up the equipment in March/April and return the painted/customized equipment for bee install in May. This early painting/customizing provided a good winter project for many while CO was under snow and cold.
BUT, NEW for spring 2020, considering the events/conditions taking place I want to reduce back and forth trips and potential unnecessary exposures.
Equipment pick up will only occur after the bees are installed middle/end of May weather permitting. All equipment already in a virus free environment will additionally be sanitized previous to early morning pick ups. Future painting/customizing hive bodies will have to be completed during the summer once the colonies are in the beekeepers new yard.
Honey is also available for pick up and containers will be sanitized previous to pick up.
If anyone has questions or wants to cancel their request for equipment/bees please just contact us. I understand these are difficult times for many, especially the unknown… It is understood that there is a significant cost to getting started in this addicting hobby. Please don’t hesitate to cancel if this provides a future hardship. Stay safe.