Topbar Beekeeping

I'm an urban topbar beekeeper in Albuquerque, NM. I manage hives in backyards and small organic farms within city limits. These hives are probably pollinating your veggie patches right now. Visit my website at:


In Her Majesty's Chambers... with Zia Queen Bees

Introduction to Queen Honeybee Rearing and Breeding. That was the name of the class I took this fab weekend in Truchas, NM with Zia Queen Bees. After this class, I am reminded how lucky I am to be beekeeping in NM at this exact moment. More important than learning about bees, is learning from people who's ideals are the basis of their operation. Many of New Mexico's teachers come from a philosophy of no chemical hive treatments, an emphasis on genetics and longevity, and a true love for the bees.

I had always wondered what Zia Queen Bee advertised as Survivor Stock Queens and found out this last weekend that they breed queens from queens that have survived a minimum of 2 years. That's impressive in today's bee world. Many beekeepers buy queens from out of state to replace their queens every year. The problem with this practice is that you never have a queen that has proven to be perfect for your environment. A better practice would be to raise queens from the hive in your own backyard because those bees are survivors! I say survivor because of a quote I heard this last week, "20% of your hives will perform great, 40% of your hives will perform abysmally, and 40% of your hives won't survive". Those aren't very good odds of keeping a healthy hive. I should know, having lost 5 queens in a 2 week period of my 16 hives just this season... and we haven't even hit winter yet.

Anyway, I left the class with a determination to start producing my own queens and sharing them with my neighbors and other local beekeepers. I do have to change their langstroth techniques a bit to suit my top bars, but I have some good ideas on ways to make this work. I'm checking my hives this Wednesday to see if I might be able to raise a few queens before I pack up the hives for the winter. Brazil and Guatemala... I'm looking at you, you fantastic queens!

What's that... oooooh, a langstroth hive. Cool.

Melanie, finding a needle in the haystack, or grafting larvae into queen cups

Mark, beekeeping without even a veil. Those bees are sweet as kittens

Super beekeepers, Melanie and Mark

About 19 healthy queen cells ready to be placed in nucs

The only bummer about this weekend is that it was raining too hard for a graduation bee beard. I need to make this happen somehow!

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