August 27, 2016

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Sustainable. Quality. Valuable. Introducing Sugar Pine.

After years of searching for a sustainable source of pine, we've found material that's not only suitable for the bees, but is responsible to the environment, handsome, and available at a great value. As always, we are committed to bringing you the highest quality products while staying true to our core values of using sustainable, local materials.

We are excited to announce that we will now offer our Langstroth hives using sustainable Sugar Pine sourced from FSC Chain of Custody suppliers in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s why we are thrilled to be offering Bee Thinking pine:

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August 17, 2016

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Introducing Our New Comb Joint

There’s a reason we included “thinking” in our company name. Since day one, we haven’t stopped thinking of ways to design the strongest, smartest, most beautiful and efficient beekeeping products available. This means sweating the small stuff, including the joint that holds our boxes together.


So we listened to a lot of customer feedback, and did our own research. We examined all kinds of existing joints,
looking back over hundreds of years of woodworking techniques throughout the world. We ultimately took inspiration from the bees themselves to make a strong and efficient joint that we think you’ll love. Since the very beginning, our boxes have used interlocking finger joints; the industry standard for hive construction. This makes sense! Finger joints are strong, attractive, and suitable for most woodworking endeavors. But we couldn’t help but to explore any possible modifications to make our joints even better. 

Our new Comb Joint includes everything we love about the typical finger joint but is also specially designed to be sleeker, stronger, easier to assemble, more efficient, and longer lasting. Our new Comb Joint features interlocking semi-hexagonal pieces similar to honeycomb. We used this shape for the same reasons bees do: it’s highly efficient and it’s strong. The inset frame rest leaves no weak points, making for an incredibly strong box from top to bottom.

With approximately 9% less end grain exposed compared to a traditional finger joint, there's less area for wood to seep in and damage your hive.

The joint is milled using a CNC machine, which is five times more accurate than a traditional hauncher, allowing us to get the perfect cut every single time. Assembly of our new boxes is quicker and simpler with miniscule opportunity for error. We want beekeepers, novice and experienced, to spend less time setting up and more time keeping bees!

Finally, we know that appearance matters with any addition to your home or garden, and we take that seriously! Our new design is sleek, compelling, modern, and completely unique. It is sure to add something special to your yard or apiary.

We have spent endless hours in our workshop and are extremely proud of what we designed. We will continue to invest in our mill, using the latest woodworking technology to craft products that make the beekeeping experience even more special. We’re confident that you, too, will love the latest generation of precision milled joinery leaving our mill in Portland, Oregon.

 

 

 

More about the comb joint below

 

 

 

July 14, 2016

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July 07, 2016

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July 13, 2015

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Vineyard and Apiary: Part II

For part II of our visit with Dundee Hill wineries, I visited Winderlea Winery and Vineyard. Winderlea stretches 20 acres across a stunning hillside and produces around 5000 cases of wine per year. The vineyard has employed Biodynamic agriculture practices since 2009 and is currently working on becoming Biodynamic certified. They have been a certified B corporation since early 2015.

Owner, winemaker, and Warré beekeeper Bill Sweat joined us to discuss the role honeybees play in his vineyard ecosystem and show us his hive.

Winderlea bee thinking blog front sign

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June 30, 2015

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Vineyard and Apiary: Part I

Hives from Bee Thinking have made long journeys to beekeepers in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and beyond. They appear on the roofs of hotels, at schools, and increasingly at wineries and vineyards.

With the heat of summer settling in around Bee Thinking Headquarters here in Portland, I decided to escape the city and head west into the Dundee Hills American Viticultural Area, a lush landscape of rolling vine-clad hills, distant forest ridges, and picturesque tasting rooms. Along the way I visited some well-known wineries that also keep bees in Bee Thinking hives.

 

sokol blosser bees in the vineyard

Sokol Blosser Winery began over 40 years ago and has developed a reputation for world-class Pinot Noir, among other varieties that they produce. The property stretches over 120 acres and includes a small apiary. Their landscape artist and beekeeper Jason Anderson generously sat down with me for a quick interview.

 

Sokol Blosser vineyard

View of the dundee hills

How did you get started beekeeping?
So, it’s a crazy awesome story: before I got this job I was working in sales and not necessarily enjoying it—at least not what I was selling. This job came about, which was an awesome blessing, and it really sent me back to growing up in Jamaica where my dad was a commercial beekeeper and managed a fish hatchery. The hatchery was set up exactly like [the crops are] here: there were acreages of ponds, offices, and plantings. One day here I driving around with Alex Sokol Blosser and it really reminded me of my childhood, so I asked him: would you ever be interested in having bees here? He told me that his cousin [Bee Thinking co-owner Matt Reed] is a beekeeper and used to have hives here but lived in Portland and but now didn’t have time to drive out and manage the bees. He asked if I wanted to take a class, and I ended up taking the Beginning Beekeeping Class at Bee Thinking.

There’s so much to know and class is only three hours, but it was a really awesome experience that inspired me to seek out more education. That was the beginning of my new passion and love for beekeeping.

 Beekeeper Jason Anderson

What kind of beehive design do you use, and how did you decide?

Initially I associated bees with honey, for obvious reasons, and I decided to use Langstroth hives for better honey production. In learning more about bees and how much they’ve become a commodity these days, I like the idea Bee Thinking as a company because they approach beekeeping with a more minimal approach, as far as using foundationless frames, natural comb, and I like that idea. I still hope to get honey from the bees. If it’s not this year that’s fine, and I mostly want good healthy hives.

 

Sokol Blosser has a strong environment focus and LEED certified buildings, how do bees fit into the larger vision for the vineyard ecosystem and business?

 The overall vision, from my perspective, is for Sokol Blosser to be a good steward of the land. We’re certified organic and that takes a whole difference approach from vineyard management to how they handle the wines in production. I don’t know everything about [wine production], but I definitely think being a steward of the land also involves combining what we grow on the landscape and what introduce as a far as animals and insects to create a balance.

As for honey and business, as a beekeeper there are so many different directions you can go—whether it’s using propolis, using leftover wax, or honey extraction. We have a restaurant and culinary specialist here on site that uses honey; it would be nice if we could provide our own. We have packaged fruit, jams, nuts, and why not honey?

bees flying into sokol blosser Langstroth hive

Closeup of Jason Anderson keeping bees
 

Do you have any advice for beginning beekeepers?

Definitely take classes before you start beekeeping. I would never jump into beekeeping without education or mentorship because you’ll learn the hard way, and you may lose bees; if you bought a package, then that means losing money. Join your local beekeeping club and attend the meetings. If you really want to dive into it, I would join the master beekeeper program at Oregon State University. It’s been an excellent resource to head in the right direction for managing your hives.

 

Thanks for that advice! Do you have a favorite part of beekeeping or beekeeping experience?

Oh yeah! My favorite thing is catching swarms—I’m sure everyone’s is. My funniest memory…I’ve been catching a lot of swarms this summer for friends, and one of them was at Anderson Family Vineyard. I wanted to get in there really quickly and I wasn’t wearing my veil. It was an easy, low swarm and I thought “I can just shake them into the box, no problem”. I sprayed them down really well with sugar water and sure enough, I got stung in the neck. My neck got so swollen I looked like I had a really long face. Now I don’t care how tough I think I am, I will always wear [protective gear] when I’m catching swarms.

 Bees building new comb

Any other message you’d like to share with our readers?

Everyone should start beekeeping! Work towards keeping healthy bees and being an advocate for bees. It’s amazing how beekeeping changes your perspective. I think it really adds character to a person and it connects you to nature.

 

Jason Anderson Portrait beekeeper

 

Sokol Blosser vines closeup

Warehouse at Sokol Blosser

**this post begins a series of interviews and conversations with beekeepers and Bee Thinking hive users on keeping bees, making the most of your hive, and bees in the landscape**

May 14, 2015

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Bee Day

If you’ve never seen the Live Animal arrivals terminal at an airport, let me tell you—it’s a fascinating place. The live animal area at Portland International Airport has seen everything from purebred puppies to steel-caged cheetahs, and yet our packages unnerved them:

“You’re kidding right? You’re telling me 800,000 bees are coming off that plane?”

No kidding! Last weekend Bee Thinking co-founder Matt Reed and I traveled out to PDX to pick up nearly 80 3lb packages of Russian-Carniolian bees from our preferred supplier, Honeybee Genetics in Vacaville, California. We like Russian-Carniolans for their hygienic behavior, and we work with Honeybee Genetics because they share our commitment to treatment-free beekeeping. If you're new to beekeeping, these 3lb packages are one of the standard ways new beekeepers purchase bees to start a colony. The boxes typically include about 10,000 workers and one queen in a special queen cage. For more information on packages and installing bees, check out our Youtube page!

apparently it takes a while for bees to deplane…

Read more...

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September 28, 2013

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The Sign is Up!

For over a year we've had a "temporary" sign hanging up on the side of our building. Finally, after a lot of work, we've finally got an amazing new blade sign! It showcases both Bee Thinking and Mead Market (the mead arm of our business). Hopefully those of you visiting from out of town will have an easier time finding us now.

Bee Thinking Sign