100 Years of Beekeeping in Colorado!

Early Johnston Family Honey WagonJohnston Honey Farms has just completed our 100th year of beekeeping in Colorado! Our bees have produced a great crop of honey that we can now pass on to our many customers that are loyal to the flavor of Colorado honey.

Honey sales have been very strong under our two labels BeeYond the Hive and Colorado Honey Company. This is due to the many health conscious people in Colorado that realize how valuable honey is as a natural health product along with being the only pure and natural sweetener available! We are already making plans for next summer’s honey production where Jamie will be placing bees in select high altitude locations. These locations will produce some of the best tasting natural honey Colorado has to offer and this honey will be as close to organic as you can get. Hopefully this honey will be available next July.

Our bees are in excellent health and have very strong populations. The CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder)that has killed many bees throughout the United States has not had any affect on our bee operation so far. Are we just lucky or is it maybe our experience of 100 years that have helped us dodge the bullet? I don’t know but we are feeding our bees more protein, amino acids and vitamins than we ever have and we also install new queens in each hive every year. New queens cost $16 each which is very expensive but they pay off a big dividend to the hive by laying 1200 eggs per day which generate more population for the hive. Two year old queens will lay 600 eggs per day so these hives have more tendency to collapse under weak populations. I feel the biggest reason for CCD is a new pathogen called Nosema Ceranae which tear down the bees digestive tract then causing much destruction to the bee. Nosema Ceranae was first detected in China in 1995 and Spain in 2005 but it can be controlled and treated. We were very lucky to be able to treat our bees with a product that has prevented our bees from breaking down with this disease.

As I write this update our bees are waiting to be shipped to California for the winter to pollinate the almond crop. There are 700,000 acres of almonds in California requiring 1.4 millions hives of bees from USA beekeepers. Almond trees are almost 100% dependent upon bees for pollination to set a crop. With two hives per acre, the trees will produce as many as 3500 pounds per acre and with no bees an orchard will drop to as low as 400 pounds per acre. Johnston Honey Farms is the largest supplier of bees for almonds in the state of California so growers are happy to see us migrate back to California for the winter! Both Jamie and Jacy will come to California as needed and help with preparing the bees for the upcoming almond bloom that will begin in February. Jeff remains the mainstay in operating our honey packing plant in Fort Collins and is too busy to make the trip to California anymore. My next update will go into more detail on our California operation and the almond bloom!! When I have time away from our bees I will be working on my tan in sunny California so that when I return to snowy Colorado this winter you will be able to recognize me!

Lyle

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