You don’t need money, honey, to enjoy this event.
The Northern Colorado Beekeepers Association will exhibit their crafters, vendors and ever-so-sweet honey concoctions at a natural and hand-crafted goods “Bee-zar” from 5-9 p.m. on Friday. The event is free to attend and lots of cookies, breads, honey and other sweets will be available to purchase.
Merry Popa has been in the beekeeping business for about eight months, although she prefers to give away jars of her honey rather than sell it.
“I was reading about the colony collapse and just got interested,” Popa said.
She joined the beekeepers association, purchased a kit and had a hive dwelling sent to her home in west Loveland.
The boxy hive arrived as a pile of boards and screws. “It was mounds and mounds of pieces of wood,” she said. And there wasn’t an instruction booklet. She, her husband and a friend sat in the garage attempting to assemble it and figure out where everything went.
“I know all of Loveland could hear us,” she said.
She finds a lot of support among the members of the beekeepers association since she is new to beekeeping.
The Bee-zaar fair will allow the public to mingle with beekeepers and other sustainability vendors; peruse a silent auction; taste honey; participate in drawings; and view a film, “More than Honey,” at 5:20 p.m. and 7:20 p.m. Mead tasting will be sponsored by Blown Spoke Hard Cider Co. of Loveland.
Popa said she harvested about 47 pounds of honey from her hive this year, and believes she has about 40,000 bees. The hive consists of a series of stacked “shelves” or “deeps” that each contain a removable panel where the bees build their honeycombs.
“The traditional hive that looks like an oval that you see on TV isn’t legal in the U.S.,” Popa said. That type is impossible for inspectors to examine because they can’t see inside, she said.
The queen lives in the lowest deep with her brood. Popa said that the queen will lay around 2,000 eggs a day during the warm summer months. To harvest the honey, Popa lifts out the panels, breaks the seal of wax that protects the honey, and lets the honey drip into a bowl. She keeps an eye out for mites getting into the hive because the mites can ruin the brood.
Green said that a varroa mite will eat the young larva and reproduce in the honeycomb cells and disrupt repopulation by the bees. An intestinal parasite called nosema can bother the bee intestinal system and make it hard for them to forage, which also weakens the hive.
The colony collapse — which is a strange phenomenon all over the world where bee colonies up and leave their hives — hasn’t affected her or most of the other beekeepers, since they keep bees on such a small scale.
“I don’t worry about it much,” said John Green, president of the association. “Obviously it’s much more of a concern for commercial beekeepers. They can’t survive with the kind of colony losses they’ve seen in recent past. They really need to get that figured out.”
He said that some of the theories have to do with agricultural chemicals and natural pests that weaken beehives.
“The chemicals can also have a sub-lethal affect on the bees. A chemical doesn’t have to kill bees to kill the hive. One of the things that has been reported is that some of these chemicals can cause bees to get disoriented and not able to find their way back to the hive,” Green said. “But I’m hardly an expert.”
Green has been with the organization for four years and has 14 hives. He did have one colony leave, but he said it was because he had tried to split a large colony in two and buy a new queen for the other half of it. The colony refused to accept the new queen and eventually dwindled away.