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Urban Top Bar Beehives [Part II] & Permaculture Farms

Originally posted at Top-Bar-Beehives.com:

WOW!  Today has been another exciting day, full of backyard discussions about honeybees, a mead tasting and a tour of the McCauley farm in Boulder County, CO.  Starting off with a visit to Jedidiah Williamson’s top bar beehives, I had the opportunity to learn about his beekeeping story, one that also was instigated by the desire to make his own mead.  Years later, Jedidiah has a handful of top bar beehives, two of which we looked at during my visit with him.  Before our interview, he sampled some of his homemade mead that had extra bitter added to it by fermented oranges.  AftTop Bar Beehive Comber sipping the delicious drink and discussing his experiences, he began to open up and check on the hives.  Although the bees were a little agitated and stung Jedidiah once or twice, I avoided any stings and was excited to see a worker bee emerge from her capped brood cell; one of the many magical moments of beekeeping.

After saying goodbye to Jedidiah and his family, I headed north to Longmont, CO to visit Bob Thayer.  As a member of the Boulder County Beekeepers Association, Bob has been beekeeping since 1986 and has begun to take a more laid-back approach in relation to managing the bees.  As we sat in his backyard, watching honeybees fly from their hive, he told me stories about a (current) colony of bees that lives in an old couch and about his wax melting process.  Although we didn’t open up any hives, it was fun to listen to his stories and learn more about Boulder County beekeeping.  We also discussed the importance of native pollinators and he showed me a monitoring block for native pollinator species that he has set-up in his backyard.  Oftentimes, I get asked questions about native pollinators (specifically those that are in northern Arizona) and I hope to learn more about these important and special beings once I’m off the road.

McCauley Farms Top Bar BeehiveAs the sun began to move towards the mountains on the western horizon, I made my way to McCauley Farms to meet up with Marcus McCauley.  As I turned off the two lane county road onto their dirt drive way, the scenery quickly changed and I was welcomed into a permaculture oasis.  Established in the 1800’s, the farm is feed water from the Left Hand irrigation ditch and is being reestablished using permaculture principles.  Unlike the the monocrop corn fields that litter the valley, Marcus and his family have already begun to intercrop a diversity of plants throughout the property, including perennial shrubs, native herbs, annual vegetables, fruit trees and much more.  As I explored the property, dozens of chickens circled around us and the sounds of sheep could be heard across the field.   As we approached the irrigation pond, one of our 18-Bar Golden Pentagon Top Bar Beehives sat overlooking the farm, which will soon be filled with a local swarm of honeybees.  As Marcus discussed his long term vision for the farm, I was happy to know that our top bar beehives will be contributing to it, bringing the life of honeybees to the broad diversity of plant and animal life here in Boulder County.

McCauley Farms Organic Farm Do Not SprayAs I left the farm, I passed by a large sign reading “Organic Farm – Do Not Spray,” illustrating type of environment and community Marcus is focused on creating.

As for the honeybees that will soon be living at the farm, I think that they will enjoy it too.