May 07, 2014

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Why Hobby Beekeeping Matters

Spring Bee InspectionIn the Pacific NW, whether you are a seasoned beek or a novice, your bee season has already begun. Packages (of bees) and nucleus hives have arrived, swarms have started, but this isn't a normal season already.

The Portland Urban Beekeepers (PUB) estimate hive losses in the area last year at a troubling 45%. Researcher Dr. Dewey Caron estimates local losses at 70%.

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May 04, 2014

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2014 Package Bees a Success!

Package Honey BeesIt's been a long couple weeks, but we (and 1.2 million honey bees) survived! This year we brought 120 Russian-Carniolan hybrid bee packages from Vacaville, California to rainy Portland, Oregon. They were created on the afternoons of Thursday, April 24th and May 1st, given some fondant for the trip (no liquid feed allowed on airplanes), taken to Delta and loaded as cargo.

The first week went splendidly. The bees made a detour to Atlanta (apparently no direct cargo flights to Portland) and then arrived on the morning of April 25th. We immediately whisked them from the tarmac to our truck, sprayed them with syrup to replenish them after a long trip. They looked fantastic; the strongest packages we've seen! They were taken to our store where they huddled together on a couple pallets until 50+ customers arrived in waves on Saturday morning. I gave install tutorials to customers who needed it, and others checked in, took their packages and left. 

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February 02, 2014

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Top Bar Hive Plans

Top bar hive plansThey are finally finished! It took a few months longer than expected, but the plans to make our top bar hive are ready for purchase and immediate download from this page: http://www.beethinking.com/products/top-bar-hive-plans

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January 25, 2014

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From the Beekeeper's Desk

Varroa mite on bee Beekeeping is like any faction of agriculture. Just as there are a hundred ways to grow carrots, there are hundreds of ways to keep bees, given the available components and philosophies. With this in mind, there is a surprising phenomenon beekeepers encounter early on when they become new beekeepers which is extreme prejudice, peer pressure, and mockery if they choose a path other than using commercial-type Langstroth hives and treatments. To explain this further, I need to take a side-step and head down a small, well-worn rabbit hole...
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September 28, 2013

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Mother Earth News Fair

It's officially Fall and the rain has arrived in Portland, Oregon. The Bee Thinking team just returned from Seven Springs, Pennsylvania where we attended the Mother Earth News Fair along with around 15,000 other amazing people. As usual, it was a great time and we enjoyed meeting our customers and making new ones! Next month, October 12th-13th, we'll be at the first annual Lawrence, Kansas Mother Earth News Fair. Matt will be speaking at 12:30PM on Saturday, October 12th if you're attending. We hope to see you there!

The team in the booth, ready for action:

Mother Earth News Fair Booth

Here's Matt speaking about Beginning Beekeeping to a packed crowd at the Grit Stage:

Matt Speaking at the Mother Earth News Fair

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

September 28, 2013

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Ventilated Beekeeping Jackets

We'll have them soon! We've worn ventilated bee jackets in our own apiary for over a year and they are fantastic. But it wasn't until the recent months that we were able to find a quality supplier. We're currently taking pre-orders and expect to have them in stock by the end of October. Pre-order yours now and save $15. Free shipping.

http://www.beethinking.com/products/ventilated-jacket-with-veil

Ventilated Bee Jacket

Vented Bee Jacket

June 21, 2013

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Top Bar Hive Nucleus Box

Earlier this month we finally completed our first run of top bar hive nucleus boxes. They are a wonderful addition to the apiary of any top bar beekeeper! Perfect for swarm catching, splitting colonies, and overwintering small nucs. Conveniently sized, we carry them in the back of our cars and trucks at all times so that we're always ready for the next swarm call!

They are constructed from the same beautiful kiln dried Western Red Cedar used on the rest of our top bar hivesWarre hives, and Cedar Langstroth hives. They feature 7 top bars and 1 divider, and a roof covered in sheet metal to keep out the elements. Pre-drilled and easy to assembly in a few minutes. $99 with free shipping to the lower 48 states.

Top Bar Hive Nucleus Box Lid On
Top Bar Hive Nucleus Box
Top Bar Hive Nucleus Box Lid Open
Top Bar Hive Nucleus Box Open
June 21, 2013

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Cedar Bee Hives - Langstroth

They've been a long time in the making, but we finally finished the first batch of cedar Langstroth hives. They are constructed from the same wonderful kiln dried Western Red Cedar used on the rest of our hives. Boxes available in shallowmedium and deep in both 8-frame and 10-frame configurations. Cedar hive kits with a roofinner cover and either solid or screened bottom are also available. All hives boxes and cedar hive kits include FREE SHIPPING to the contiguous 48 states!

Cedar Hive Kit with Medium Boxes - Starting At $144.99

Cedar Medium Hive Kit
Cedar Hive Kit - Medium Boxes

Deep Box - Starting at $36.99

Cedar Deep Box
Cedar Hive Body - Deep

Medium Box - Starting at $32.99

Cedar Medium Box
Cedar Hive Super - Medium

Shallow Box - Starting at $29.99

Cedar Shallow Box
Cedar Hive Super - Shallow
March 13, 2013

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Spring 2013 Update

Daylight Savings Time has come, which tells us that Bee Season is almost here. What a year it's been! In April of 2012 we moved Bee Thinking from its tiny, 1,000 square foot space in the Sellwood Neighborhood of Portland to a 3,000 square foot facility in the SE Hawthorne Neighborhood.

Inside Bee Thinking
Inside Bee Thinking

In May of last year Williams-Sonoma approached us about selling our hives (top bar hives and Warre hives) through their website and catalog. This, of course, was flattering and exciting news! In order to keep up with the demand and further refine the quality of our products, we built a relationship with a new manufacturer. We're now able to produce at least 300 hives at a time, all consistently quality controlled and ready to ship to our customers worldwide. 

Due to the increased demand for our hives, we've also increased our staff from 2 to 4, with Alyssa starting as our full-time manager in July. This staffing increase has better enabled us to handle the deluge of orders, phone calls and e-mails that come with the spring rush. We're doing our best to keep up, usually shipping orders within a day or two, but sometimes we get backed up. Please bear with us!

We're teaching at least 2 beekeeping classes per month (sign up for beekeeping classes), with most of them filling up long before the date of the class (Sign up soon if you plan to take one this spring)! We also had a Mead Making class earlier this year that was a great success. We plan to continue mead making classes and begin offering other bee-related classes in the near future.

We're continuing to innovate by improving current products offering new ones based on requests from our customers. Our top bar hive now features a full-length window, a modification that has been requested for a long time. Our new products that will be available soon include top bar hive screened bottoms, Western Red Cedar Langstroth hives (available for pre-order), and top bar hive nucleus boxes.

Cedar Deep Box
Cedar Langstroth Hive Body

Swarms should begin around the start of April. In fact, in 2011 and 2012 our first swarms of the year were on Easter day. We're working hard to prepare for swarm season, and we're planning on adding dozens of bait hives all over the city to ensure we capture as many swarms as possible, while also keeping them from moving into walls.

Happy bee season, all!