• 2010, A Backyard Odyssey's To-Do List: ITEM #1 -- Order Bees

    Here's my first flavor-based task of the New Year: Call Zia Queen Bee Co. to order a bee colony. For two years, my bees have disappeared. As if confused by too much cross-continental travel or kidnapped and murdered by some powerful, poisonous pesticide, the busy critters have twice vanished from our almost-urban backyard. Yet I’m still way psyched for the experience of producing honey again. YUM! Plus, tending bees is an extremely soul-stimulating experience. It’s as if you’re working in another dimension or visiting some distant planet because these ultra-focused beings completely ignore you as soon as you spew ample smoke on them. There you are: suddenly communing with thousands of stinging insects, who couldn’t care less about your sorry existence!

    Although it'll cost $75 bucks for a new queen (complete with throng), this year we could reap bottomless honey jars for the family AND Christmas presents for nearly everyone else on our list. (Comment below, and I’ll consider including YOU, dear reader, on said list!)


  1. I was just talking with my honey (human kind) about what would be involved in having a bee hive in her back yard. Could you post the vendor for such? Does it include the hive or is that a separate purchase?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like a great family activity, we usually buy at the farmer's market, but perhaps we should become producers rather than just consumers. Can you suggest a book that explains the basics? Our climate is rather cold and snowy in the winter....Thanks!

  1. Nate Downey says:

    @Bruce, the hive is extra. Here's a link to get you started:


    Thanks for asking!

  1. @Anonymous, "The Backyard Beekeeper: The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden" is the book I use most. There's a good chapter on winter management, but (especially in a cold climate) you will also want to look at the previous chapter about the last harvest of the year. Bees do not hybernate. They do the opposite. They buzz to keep warm, and to do so they need lots of honey to eat over the winter. The colder and longer the winter, the more honey you will need to leave in the hive in the fall.

  1. I'm inspired, Nate. So many people talk about bees in such
    awesome, almost mystical terms I am very tempted to try myself!

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These are the musings of an engaging enterprise.
Its thirty-year mission:

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