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Urban Top Bar Beehives & Beekeeping Supplies

Originally posted at Top-Bar-Beehives.com:

Today was Helen Hastingsmy first full day here in Denver, a place that seems to be one of the hottest spots for backyard and urban beekeepers.  Back in 2008, Denver legalized beehives (up to 2 per yard) influencing many residents to set up backyard hive yards so that they could begin to reap the many benefits of local bees (whether that be honey, pollination, beeswax, and so on).  Over the years, more and more beekeeping associations have sprouted up and now there is even a large supply store, serving the needs of regional beekeepers.

Wax and honeyIn the morning, I traveled to a little west of Denver, out to an area where you could see both the city’s sky scrapers and wooded mountains on each horizon.  Amongst the standard looking suburb, I met with Helen Hastings who has been keeping bees in top bar beehives since 2007.  As a former resident (and farmer) of northern New Mexico, Helen was exposed to top bar hives through a workshop held by Les Crowder and has since become very passionate about honeybees.  Last year, Helen and her partner relocated to Denver, bringing along a New Mexican survivor colony.  Although the move into the urban environment has been much different than living on their desert farm, she explained to me that bringing the bees with her has helped her remain grounded and connected to New Mexico.

As we talked, opened up hives and checked on queens (and queen cells), Helen worked slowly and calmly without agitating the bees at all.  As I watched her and the bees, the connection between her and the bees was clear and will be forever remembered.  Next time I’m working with our hives in northern Arizona, I’ll be sure to think back on this experience and try to create a similar, harmonious atmosphere.

To Bee or Not To Bee SmokersAfter saying goodbye to Helen and her honeybees, I headed back into the heart of Denver to visit To Bee or Not To Bee.  Located in an industrial workyard, full of construction equipment and tools, I found the quaint little beekeeping supply shop owned by Vicki Munroe.  Although Vicki wasn’t there (due to the nearby fire evacuations), I had the opportunity to look around the shop and talk for awhile with Loren and Bryan who were there assisting customers.  With shelves full of smokers, Langstroth foundations and hive pieces, local honey jars, top bar hives, books and lots more, it was exciting to see that a shop of this kind could be supported by a community.

After doing a little shopping, I interviewed Bryan about his beekeeping experiences and he shared a bee removal story with me which was interesting to learn about.  Initially he started beekeeping to have honey for mead although at this point they have become a large part of his life, something that he plans on doing for the rest of his life.