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Wednesday, July 15, 2020
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Beekeeping is a Growing Trend
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The arrow identifies the queen bee of the hive.
 
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Honeycomb with honey from a top bar hive.
 
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Beekeeping is on a growing upward swing all across the United States with new environmental information and higher technology helping to fuel the trend. While beekeeping is a time honored tradition, it had long been limited to rural areas, a lot of times farms, where crops were plentiful and neighbors were scarce. New trends in beekeeping are seeing beekeepers not only in rural areas, but in urban areas, and cities. As local bee expert, Janet Fink says, "In the World War II era almost everyone had a hive or two of bees because sugar was scarce and they used the honey in place of it. That trend kind of went away but now it is coming back around. In these uncertain times and with more people trying to be self sufficient interest in beekeeping is renewed."

With the increase of urbanization reducing the number of hives being kept, the increased use of pesticides killing off bees, and the public's lack of knowledge about bees things were looking pretty rough in the bee world for a time. The native bee population declined to a dangerous level and people began to be aware of how important bees are to the environment and agriculture. More people wanted to help save the bees, and with more people taking an interest, education about bees and new easier methods of beekeeping began to appear. Bee owners reasons for having bees are as different as, well the number of bees in a hive. Some people get bees to help the plight of the honey bee and try to help their numbers recover, some just enjoy watching the bees at work, some want them around to help pollinate their flowers and plants. Others are more commercially minded and want to sell honey, wax products, honey based lotions and salves or even bees. Hope Reilly is in her start up year of beekeeping off Pickney Road, near the Graneros Gorge. She stated, "We wanted to do something to help the declining bee population and to enhance our land, but I didn't realize how much I would enjoy just watching our bees. They are very hard workers and very peaceful. They just stay in the vicinity of their hives and only come to the house once in a while to drink. "

While not exactly livestock, bees are defined similarly and can be used to achieve or maintain agricultural status on land. Once past the startup costs, they are much cheaper to maintain than larger forms of livestock and take less time to handle. Bees may need to be fed sugar water in lean, dry years like this, but many years they are able to provide for themselves and produce honey simply by what nature provides. Another plus over other types of livestock, you don't have to be there to feed the bees, if they are protected against predators, and have a ready water source, you don't even have to be there. The harvest of the honey in the fall is probably the most work involved. Local Beekeeper, Gabriele Reed mixes essential oils in the sugar water she feeds her bees and also feeds pollen patties. She places the food right in the hives so it does not attract unwelcome visitors. Most beekeepers keep their hives in fenced in areas and some add electric wire to help keep out the bears.

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The Greenhorn Valley View is a weekly newspaper serving the communities of the Greenhorn Valley in Southern Colorado,
including Colorado City, Rye, San Isabel, Beulah and Hatchet Ranch.

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