Queens from MPCAP Program

Our queen and package supplier is part of the Managed Pollinator CAP program, which tests for hygienic bee behavior. We are excited to be part of the bee decline solution by supporting these producers. 

They test breeder queens for the recessive genetic trait, hygienic bee behavior. Hygienic behavior is when workers bees sense a missing phermone in diseased larvae and remove it before it emerges as a honeybee. The bee breeders use hygienic queens as breeding stock and then sell their daughters as package queens. Not all the daughters will be hygienic, but the percentage of them which are increases over time. (See previous post about testing for hygienic behavior in your own bees.)

They also test for bee pests and diseases, working toward resistant stock.

Criteria for selection:
  1. Hygienic
  2. Disease-resistant
  3. Good honey producer
  4. Gentle disposition 

We hope our customers enjoy knowing that they are getting a good queen, carefully selected for the best traits. 


The case for a 'local first' mentality

The case for a ‘local first’ mentality. The article below was copied and pasted from KSL.com. Here is the URL link. http://www.ksl.com/?sid=21721728.
Who needs more reasons to buy local? I guess we all do. This article talks about purchasing at a local store 1 out of 10 shopping trips. If you are considering buying bees, please consider us, a local company, and see money going back into the local economy. Also, compare our prices with our competitors. We have a low overhead and offer high-quality equipment and honey at lower prices. 
At The Honey Company, we are proud to sell Utah-produced products: 
  • Sustainably-produced raw honey. 
  • Beekeeping woodenware. Produced in Utah by Utah woodworkers from local trees. These include bee boxes, frames, lids, and bottom boards. 
  • Our own invention, the barn hive. 
Many of our competitors purchase equipment elsewhere to mark up and resell in Utah, including a recent $3,000,000 order from China. Please ask our competitors where their equipment was produced. 
Hope you enjoy the article below. 

SALT LAKE CITY — Spending money at local businesses can have a bigger impact on the local economy than spending those same dollars at national chains, a new study states.
Research conducted by Civic Economics detailing the amount of revenue returned to the local community by locally-owned, independent businesses showed that 52 percent of all revenues went back into their communities compared to about 14 percent for national chain stores.
The report also indicated that local eateries returned nearly 79 percent of revenues compared to just over 30 percent for national restaurants.
Overall, locally-owned, independent businesses return 382 percent more dollars to the Salt Lake City economy than chain retailers, explained Nan Seymour, executive director of Local First Utah.
“Four times the amount of dollars stay in our community when you spend at a local business," she said.
Seymour said the study also concluded that shifting just 10 percent of purchases from national chains to local retailers and restaurants would keep $487 million in the Utah economy — money that currently leaves the state to be spent elsewhere.
The survey included 15 retailers and seven restaurateurs — all independent and locally owned.
For comparison, Civic Economics analyzed annual reports for four major national chain stores — Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, Office Max and Target. Those stores recirculated an average of 13.6 percent of all revenue within the local markets that host its stores.
Locally owned retailers return about 52 percent of their revenues to the local economy. For national chain stores, that number falls to about 14 percent.

In addition, the report analyzed data from three major national restaurant chains — Darden (Olive Garden, Red Lobster), McDonald’s and P.F. Chang’s. Those restaurants returned an average of 30.4 percent of revenue.
"Every study we've conducted around the country has shown that shopping locally can keep at least three times more revenue in the local economy," said Daniel Houston, partner at Civic Economics. "Salt Lake City is no exception. If anything, the 'local effect' may be even stronger in Utah."
Speaking after a new conference Wednesday in the Emigration neighborhood, Salt Lake City’s economic development director said if shoppers consider the long-term benefit of patronizing local businesses, the greater the impact on the local economy.
“The more that we support our local businesses, the better they do,” said Bob Farrington. “The more they can provide local jobs and local products … and the more revenue we all receive from that.”
Betsy Burton, co-owner of the King’s English Bookshop, said she has noticed a distinct trend recently of more people choosing to “shop local.”
“It’s always been something that we felt in our gut, but we always wanted to be able to prove it,” she said. "Now with this study, we know that it's (true)."
She added that her bookstore has experienced a 12 percent increase in sales since January, despite the competition of national chains and the Internet.
“Local is becoming a huge movement,” Burton said. “People really care about their community.”


Should I get a 2- or 3-pound package?

First of all, if you are a brand new beekeeper, please consider purchasing a nuc. Here is a post about nucs. You will have more success with a nuc. Promise. Then next year, when you are addicted to bees, get some packages. 

If you have decided on packages (find our more about packages here), you will have the option of 2- or 3-pound packages (sometimes 4-pounders too). Either package size can yield a successful beehive. It is a management decision, and this post describes some things to think about while making that decision. 

Packaged bees are measured by the pound. There are 3-4,000 bees per pound, or about 7,000 bees in a 2-pound package and about 10,000 bees in a 3-pound package. (Honestly, no one really counts the bees!) The initial worker bees in the package are not offspring of the queen, and may be any breed. They are usually Italian, as Italians are known to build up fast.

Once the package is in the hive, the 2- or 3-pounds of initial worker bees get to work. They draw out comb, collect nectar and pollen, and the queen begins laying eggs, and those eggs begin to mature and emerge. It takes about 21 days for the egg to grow into a bee. Meanwhile, the initial work force will slowly die off, hopefully to be replaced by young bees. The emerging bees are offspring of the queen, and will be true to the queen and her mates.

Photo of 3 packages of bees crated together. One of these will be installed in the hive shown. 

If the weather is good (sunny/warm), bees gather nectar and pollen for the upcoming brood. More workers can gather more nectar and pollen and can care for more brood. This can give a head start to 3-pound packages. 

If the weather is poor (wet/cold), which usually happens in a Utah springtime, beekeepers will need to feed bees. More workers mean more mouths to feed, and more time for the beekeeper at each apiary. (This becomes more of an issue with increasing hive numbers.) Packaged bees are used to having plenty to eat, as they come from sunny California (or the South). Thus, a 2-pound package can be easier to feed in the springtime. 

In the cold weather, 3 pounds of bees may be warmer in their hive because of more body heat. 

The queen bee will lay as many eggs as bees can care for. Caring for eggs is typically a job for newly emerged nurse bees. She can only expand her brood chamber so far with the initial package workers. Two pounds of workers will expand to cover about 4 deep frames. (“Cover” means they will take care of eggs laid in the comb, literally “cover” the space with their little bee bodies.) Three pounds of workers will expand the brood chamber to cover about 5 frames. At that point, the expansion stalls out because there are no new emerging nurse bees to care for a larger brood chamber. Once the first set of new bees emerges, the hive really takes off. 

If we conservatively say that the queen can lay 1,000 eggs a day, then it would only take her 3 days to make up the difference between a 2-pound package and a 3-pound package. About 4-6 weeks after the package is hived, you won't notice any difference between 2- and 3-pound packages. They will have similar bee numbers and accomplish the same amount of work. 

This management decision really only impacts the first 4-6 weeks of growth. The 3-pound package has a slight advantage in good weather. The 2-pound has an advantage to the beekeeper in poor weather. 

And then there is price. In 2013, 3-pound packages cost $75, and 2-pounders were $65. The $10 difference is significant if you are buying, say 30 hives. It would save you $300. 

Because of the cost difference, we use 2-pound packages for our operation and they work well. Over hundreds of hives, there is no significant difference between the two sizes after 6 weeks. Also, 2-pound packages are standard in the beekeeping industry. 

We start our 2-pound packages in a nuc box (like the awesome barn hive below) until they fill up the space, and then transfer to a standard 10-frame hive.