High Country Bee, Edition 3, Volume 4

April 1, 2014 Beth Conrey blog


April is National Volunteer Month and I would like to take this time to thank all of the CSBA’s Officers and Board for their VOLUNTEER efforts on our behalf.  Running an organization such as the CSBA is a continuous challenge requiring periods of intensive effort and their generous donation of their time and energy is what makes the CSBA succeed.  Thank you.

For all of you who volunteer for this organization, your regional association, bees, and beekeeping, I salute you.  Your efforts are making a difference and public awareness of pollinator issues is at an all-time high.  Keep up the good work!  Know that the CSBA is supportive of your efforts and will provide you with all the help we can muster in terms of printed material, kids stickers and honey sticks.

The CSBA could use more volunteers, too.  There are 5 CSBA Committees, working on a a variety of bee issues, that could use some more help.  They are:  Best Practices, Data Collection, Forage, Master Beekeeper and Pesticides.  A complete list of contacts and responsibilities can be found on the CSBA Committee page.


Liaisons are needed for quite a few of the regional associations.

Pollinator Week is June 16 to 23 and the CSBA will need help staffing booths on Saturday, June 21.

The State Fair is in August and the CSBA is going to have a booth that will need to be designed and staffed for the duration.  If you are interested in helping with the State Fair, contact Tony Fronczek at 970-231-3225.

The WAS Conference is being hosted by CO next year.  Talk about a lot of effort needed to get this event pulled off successfully!  Contact me at 970-213-3099 or president@coloradobeekeepers.org.

Got a project you would like us to help with?  Call or email me and we will try to “git ‘er done”!

I do not think that more things could happen in a month!  This newsletter is simply PACKED with all sorts of cool news.  Read on…

Colorado Queen Honey Bee Testing Project for Increased Sustainability

Whoa–that’s a mouthful!  For those of you in attendance at the CSBA Winter Meeting last November, you will remember Kris Holthaus’ presentation on a local queen rearing project concept.  You completed a survey regarding  your interest in locally reared queens and then we went after some grant money.  The GREAT NEWS is that we were successful! Kudos to Kris Holthaus, and all of her grant-writing helpers, for their VOLUNTEER efforts to get this project off the ground.

The focus is to test commercially available resistant queen stock under Colorado conditions.  There will also be propagation and distribution of virgin queens to Colorado Beekeepers for their own testing and evaluations this summer at the CSBA summer meeting.  This is a two year testing project that will introduce into all Colorado regions resistant stock that otherwise would be unavailable.

Are you interested in CO reared queens?  Check out the website here and be sure to come to the CSBA Summer Meeting for the distribution.

CSBA Summer Meeting–or should I call it College?

I was amazed at the interest from CO in the Wyoming Bee College that was offered in Laramie in March and understand it was a tremendous success.  The CSBA Summer Meeting is  really a college also.  While the morning is filled with lectures, the afternoon is all hands-on activities designed to increase your skills and confidence with your bees.  The Summer Meeting will be held at Western Colorado Honey in Silt on Saturday, June 14th.  Registration opens at 8  and activities continue non-stop until 6.  Our featured speaker is Dr. Jim Tew.  I am finalizing the details of all of our guest speakers and our afternoon activities and will have the schedule posted soon.  I hope to see you there!

Ross Conrad Early Bird Pre-Registration Extended

Click here!

Tis the season…

for growing.  And, sadly, growing means that our bees are exposed to an incredible array of insecticides and herbicides from both agricultural and urban use for the next half year.  While we advocate eliminating pesticide use on small properties, we also understand that this isn’t going to happen any time in the near future.

For quite some time, I have been looking for a list of herbicides and insecticides that gardeners CAN use and I have finally found them on a site called Grow Smart, Grow Safe.   This list, while comprehensive, is not printable or sortable which presents a problem when a consumer is heading to their local garden center and needs a reference guide.  I have taken the liberty of converting the Grow Smart, Grow Safe lists to Excel files and have posted them to the CSBA website under Consumer Information here.  I have also updated the CSBA website to reflect the latest research on neonicotinoids.

CSBA Website

is truly “The Place to Bee” in Colorado thanks to the efforts of our webmaster, Peter Bockenthien, and myself.  I am on many of your regional association listservs and am always amazed at the questions that are posed that could be answered by simply going to the CSBA site.  Please visit (or revisit) the CSBA site for information on bees, beekeeping, pesticides, legislation, etc. etc.  There is a tremendous amount of information that is there–and it is all for YOU!  Of course, the CSBA site is a non-stop work in progress.  I could use some help from a few of you to build the newest section Honeybee Health.  Check it out here and sign up to write and research a section on Adult diseases and pests so we can finally get this finished. Email me of call me to VOLUNTEER!  A new section on Emerald Ash Borer should be available soon, too.

Point/Counterpoint on Feeding

Last month, I wrote about why I feed my bees.  CSBA and High Land Beekeeping Club member Judith Moran, wrote a very nice paragraph on why she chooses NOT to feed her bees.  She gave me permission to reprint it here.

As the saying goes, if you ask ten beekeepers how to tend bees you’ll get eleven answers…

There have been a couple reminders from club members to feed bees and while I respect everyone’s right to feed their bees and share their gained knowledge regarding feeding bees I’d also like to share with new beekeepers that to feed bees is a choice and that there are some beekeepers who don’t regularly or prophylactically feed their bees. But not because we want our bees to starve.

There are numerous forms of insurance against a starved hive besides feeding. This could include relying on wild-mated queens whose daughters because they have many different fathers offer different insurances to the hive’s survival. Some daughters could be well suited to flying especially far in a drought to collect pollen and nectar. Some daughters might be more cold tolerant and could fly for forage when the weather was a little colder or a little cloudy. Some daughters could be well suited to propolizing for both immunity to disease for the hive and closing down the entrance against robbers or cold. Some daughters might be especially protective of the hive against robbing yellow jackets. Some daughters could have especially hygienic behavior. In short, diversity in the hive is a wonderful thing.

Another form of insurance is being extremely cautious and not harvesting too much honey. It feels good to have a honey harvest. But from experience it feels even better to see your bees come through the winter on their own honey stores. Though the first question most friends and relations ask is “how much honey did you get this year?” I’d suggest that survivor bees, not honey harvest size, is the true mark of a successful year.

Yet another insurance is only placing as many hives in one location as the surrounding forage area can support in the worst foraging season. The Front Range is not Italy and we just can’t support (with or without sugar) the number of hives that the Italian mild climate and long season can. Personally I choose to only place one hive in any one location – insurance that my bees will have enough forage and that there also might be enough forage for native bees. I have no way of knowing how many wild hives or managed hives are within that three mile flight radius from my one hive. But I do know that I would more likely have to feed my bees if I had 3 or 5 or 8 hives in that location. I’m a hobbyist with hives in the suburbs and city and someone who doesn’t rely on honey for income. I recognize everyone’s situation is different and do respect others’ choices to place multiple hives in one location for convenience or income. Just as fewer hives in a location is insurance another beekeeper might not choose, feeding sugar is an insurance I don’t regularly choose. I have chosen it once in an emergency (small swarm caught after a rainstorm) and would do so again if I thought necessary. Ten beekeepers, eleven answers. Everyone in their own way trying to do what is right by their bees.

Of Interest:

From member Jim Conley:  19 Crops that would disappear without bees

The Center For Food Safety’s “Heavy Costs:  Weighing the Value of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in Agriculture”

Pollinator Stewardship Council Newsletter


As always, thank you for being a member!

Beth Conrey







Prairie Wind Bee Supply

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