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Hardy Northwest Bees-Pacific Northwest Queens

It’s 47 degrees out and there’s snow on the ground here in White Salmon, Washington and while the Italian and Carniolan bees are still clustered staying warm waiting for the 50 degree mark to come out and do their stuff, our survivor stock bees from Dan and Judy Harvey’s Olympic Wilderness Apiary are already hard at work gathering pollen outside.  We inherited a nuc last year from a friend and these hard-scrabble girls are thriving despite a crummy nectar year last year.  The minute we hived them we noticed a huge difference in behavior, which we’ve admiringly named ‘Serious Biz’.  No hanging out on the Lido deck drinking cappuccinos like the Italians, as my partner in beekeeping crime, Tim, puts it.  Its all action- satisfaction with these girls.

What makes these honeys special is that they are bred from a combination of survivor stock and USDA Primorsky Russian and SMR/VSH breeder queens.  The survivor stock part are bees that swarmed from pioneer hives and kept themselves over the years in the rainforest of the Olympic Peninnsula and are uniquely adapted to cold, wet weather. Interestingly, the genetic material of this survivor stock doesn’t exist in modern commercial beekeeping.  Primorsky’s are known for working in cold temperatures, hygienic behavior and tracheal mite resistance. SMR stands for ‘Suppressed Mite Reproduction’ which has more recently been described by researchers as VSH or ‘Varroa Sensitive Hygiene’.  To top it all off, the breeders haven’t used mite treatments in their breeder colonies for eleven years and Fumagillin for three.  By working with the bees’ natural immunity, they are raising healthy and successful queens to share with others.  Here’s the Stock Selection Criteria from the OWA website:

Hygienic Behavior – minimum of 95% removal of killed brood in 24 hours
Varroa Resistance – 5% or below: UNTREATED.
Nosema Tolerance – demonstrate vigor with high exposure,UNTREATED.
Gentleness – Able to work without gloves.
Swarming Behavior – Not prone to swarm
Hoarding Behavior – Excellent honey producers; heavy pollen collectors
Longevity    –
For Production queens: grafted from queens over-wintered minimum one season
For ‘Select’ and ‘Breeder’ queens: grafted from queens over-wintered minimum two seasons

Priced at $150-300 per queen, these bees are probably not for the beginning beekeeper or for hives sited near crops that are sprayed with pesticides. If you’ve had several successful years and live in a relatively clean landscape, you might consider trying these hardy Northwest queens. We believe in them so much that this year we plan to purchase a few queens from the OWA to establish additional hives and hopefully make some nucs available.  OWA does not treat its bees and instead relies on superior genetics to survive the effects of cold wet weather, nosema, tracheal and Varroa mites.  Since we do not use chemicals or antibiotics in our hives, we like knowing that our source of bees isn’t treated either.  Equally important to us is knowing that drones from our hives are contributing to the genetic diversity of other colonies in our area.

Columbia Gorge Bee Class Resource List/ Spring 2012

Hives and Equipment



Nucs, Shakes, Kona Queens: John Kraus  kraus@gorge.net 509.493.3632

Packages, Nucs, Queens (Italian & Carniolan): Ruhl Bee Supply

Chemical-free hive nucs, with or without raised queens: Melissabees.com

Swarms and Swarm Capture


Bee Groups

White Salmon Bee Club: : wsbeeclub@googlegroups.com

 A Few Fun Videos for Your Enjoyment!

Hiving Package Bees for Langstroth:



Zen and the Art of Package Bees


Package Hiving for Top Bar (Family Style):


Swarm Hiving for Top Bar (Natural Beekeeping Trust):

‘Thwomp!’ Top Bar Hiving Technique:


‘Skirt’ Top Bar Hiving Technique:




Hear Ye Hear Ye: A Letter From the Queen to the US Senate Drones (Males) Regarding Contraception:

My honey-gatherer tells me you are at it again, attempting to control women and their fertility and I feel compelled to write to point out the error of your ways and advise a change of course.

As the mother of the thousands upon thousands of children in my colony I’m no reckless, childless, free-roaming femeNazi lobbing bombs of criticism at you from the outside.  On the contrary, I’m in the reproductive thick of it, laying 2,000 eggs a day with the help of my daughters just to keep our hive alive.  Together the females of our colony decide which eggs are fertilized and which are not-depending on the needs of our community, making room to receive with graciousness and preparedness an increase or decrease of population in accordance with the times of natural abundance or lack.  In the human community it seems this is not so: you require women to conceive, then withhold support from them; you encourage expansion when it is inadvisable given dwindling resources and the mass extinctions of the plants and animals on which you rely.

Like human mothers, 95% of child-rearing and everyday living tasks rest squarely on the shoulders of the female members of the hive, while the drones (males) laze around drinking our hard-earned honey, waiting for their chance to mate with a Queen-activities you yourselves I’m sure are familiar with.  While the drones’ sole purpose in life is to mate, ours is chiefly concerned with the maintenance of life and well-being of future generations, work we apply ourselves to with unequaled diligence and passion, whether through the generative act of motherhood or the creative arts.  We, the female denizens of colony and hive decide who is to be or not; and what is to be or not. To hear my honey-gatherer speak of human drones deciding such things, in all-male council no less, is utterly laughable and conceivably dangerous.

We regulate our fertility in another way; as the Queen my body is particularly equipped as a container for both egg and sperm, and as an egg is released I decide whether or not it is fertilized to create a male or female of our species. This ensures that the reproductive cycle, child-rearing and honey storage is kept in fine balance to assure our survival through a harsh winter or unfavorable season.  It is a skill our human female contemporaries too mastered years ago, yet seem to have forgotten or had trained out of them, and now only exercise in small part through the use of contraceptives.

To make contraception more difficult to obtain, more expensive or an un-insurable medical benefit, or even suggest a trans-vaginal ultrasound before receiving an abortion is to deny human women their intrinsic and inalienable rights as keepers of their sacred body-temples.  You have heard the saying ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ have you not? Unwelcome penetrations of womb and hive will be equally met with sting, and hopefully this letter will serve as advance warning, along with the rising hum of perturbed feminine voices.

My recommendation, sirs, is that you take heed of our example and step out of the way of attempting to control women’s fertility.  For the part of the story I have not yet shared with you, is that come autumn (which I hear is your election season) all males are eliminated from the hive; all drones are forcibly removed by the female workers.  We simply don’t have the honey, or the patience, to keep you.

Yours truly,

The Queen

Beginning Beekeeping Class- ‘The First Year of Keeping’- Columbia River Gorge, Mar. 13th, 2012

Beginning Beekeeping Class Part II

Want to get started beekeeping? Interested in chemical-free bees and  beekeeping? Have you studied bees and beekeeping on your own and would like a class to fill the gaps in your understanding?

Join Melissa Elliott of Melissa Bees, a local landscape designer, beekeeper and apitherapist for an informative look at what to expect in your first year of beekeeping. Subjects to be discussed include hive placement and protection, sourcing bees, hiving bees (putting them in the hive), handling the bees, swarming (bees’ natural increase) honey supering and related topics.  Hives, hive tools, and protective gear will be available for purchase the night of class.  At sign up, please let Melissa know if you are interested in purchasing a hive.  This course is for everyone, regardless of whether or not you attended the first class.

Practical matters will be covered: the how, where, when, cost, etc. of starting beekeeping. Bring your notebooks and questions!

Cost: $30 (Cash or Check) or by Paypal incl. taxes and fees.  Payment address: PO Box 62, White Salmon, WA 98672

Payment: Class limited to 12; by 3/6/12.  After 3/6/12 class fee is $35.

When: Mar. 13, 6:30 pm

Where: Private residence, White Salmon WA. On sign-up you will receive location info.



Chemical Free Bee Hive Products

Chemical Free Hive Honey

Beezlebalm Lip Balm

Rose Swarm Calendula Salve

100% Pure Beeswax Candles


Honey Made in America: Raw, unfiltered, chemical free hive honey naturally imbued with pollen and propolis.

Melissa Bees’ Chemical-Free Hive Honey: No miticides, fungicides, no treatment- nada! Just honey, as pure and raw as the bees who made it, imbued with pollen and propolis from the combs. Straight from the hills of White Salmon, WA in the magnificent Columbia River Gorge.

4 oz. Hex Jar $6.00 + shipping and handling

6 oz. Hex Jar $8.00 + shipping and handling

12 oz Hex Jar $18.00 + shipping and handling




Apipuncture Bladder 23- 2011 Charles Mraz Apitherapy Course, American Apitherapy Society

Frederique Keller, L.A.c. DOM and president of the American Apitherapy Society, demonstrates apipuncture on Bladder 23 at the Charles Mraz Apitherapy Course held in New Orleans this year.  The course is a wonderful opportunity to connect with healers and doctors utilizing products of the hive in their practices. The 2012 course will be held in Portland, OR- the date TBA:

Legalize Urban Beekeeping LA Victory! Mar Vista Votes Yes on Urban Beekeeping thanks to HoneyLove

Congratulations to Mar Vista on legalizing beekeeping! Chelsea McFarland, from the nonprofit HoneyLove.org  paid a surprise visit in September to tell me of beekeeper struggles in Los Angeles, as well as her dreams and visions for the area. Unbelievably, beekeeping is illegal in Los Angeles and HoneyLove is doing great work to change that.  Chelsea is such a delightful, sparkling person and I trust that she will become a great leader for beekeeping and other important issues in her community.  Be sure to check out HoneyLove.org to stay abreast of their important work!



Menuka Honey Preparation for Burn Wounds- 2011 Charles Mraz Apitherapy Course, New Orleans, LA – American Apitherapy Society

In this clip Dr. Alan Dennison MD walks us through a Menuka Honey Preparation for a severe burn wound.  The subject’s shin was burned by a scooter exhaust pipe in Aug. 2011, which she treated for three months using only honey from her hives and acupuncture.  The preparation shown is using irradiated Menuka honey and sterile bandages. Listen closely, there is valuable cross-talk in the video, particularly the full-length version.  To access the full 12 minute video from the 2011 Charles Mraz Apitherapy Course, join the American Apitherapy Society here: http://www.apitherapy.org/


She Flows: The White Salmon River Runs Free

The Condit Dam in White Salmon, WA was breached today, near our home.  One blocked artery opened so the earth blood can flow, allowing us all the chance to breath freely again.  May the mighty Salmon thrive in these waters!

She Flows: The White Salmon River Runs Free