Author Archives: bigbear

Degrees of Beekeeping


Just for fun, I thought I’d put a little thing together here to describe different states of beekeeping.

The Bee-haver:  someone who has bees but isn’t very active, if active at all, about taking care of the bees.  Wants the honey, but can’t find or make much time for care of the bees.

A beekeeper:  Notice the lower case “b” that starts “beekeeper”.  This I’d your garden variety hobbyist.  Good people.  They are excited about getting honey.  They are enthusiastic about taking care of the bees.  Beekeeping is one part of their lives but not something to stop them from going on vacation or anything.

A Beekeeper:  This one starts with a capital “B”.  This is no longer simply a hobbyist.  This person has made it a lifestyle.  Other aspects of life revolve around the bees.  These people live, eat and breathe beekeeping.

Do you know someone that fits these states of beekeeping?  In which state are you?

Big Bear on: Mentoring Beekeepers

In the world of beekeeping there are many things touted as necessary and revolutionary to save the bees.

In my experience, one of the most important thing a new beekeeper can have to help them be successful in keeping bees alive and healthy is a good mentor.

“Good” being the pivotal term here.  I am the founder and President of a local bee association, the “Omaha Bee Club”.  I am a Master Beekeeper in the OBC, a mentor to other beekeepers and I train beekeepers to be mentors.

That’s right.  I train beekeepers to be mentors.   While every beekeeper can gain the information and experience to be a good beekeeper themself, that doesn’t always translate into being a good mentor of beekeepers.

Far too often, it shows up as one beekeeper telling a new beekeeper “do everything I do and you’ll be fine.”

Not so much.

Beekeeping is a very personal activity.  it is affected by everything from the type of bees a beekeeper has to the religious, political and philosophical views an individual has.  

It is affected by the weather patterns in a given area.  The environmental conditions that can vary 10 miles between one apiary and another.

A “good” mentor teaches a new beekeeper how to be successful on their own terms, not the mentor’s terms.
There are skills and tasks that a mentor can show new bees that will make them more adept at beekeeping.

There are things that newbees MUST so for themselves and not become dependent on the mentor for.

Mentors encourage newbees to take initiative because the bee’s won’t come knocking on the door to schedule an appointment.

Mentors emphasize honey bee biology and behavior knowledge that will be the queues that beekeepers look for to make decisions on.

The U.S. has roughly 50% fewer beekeepers now than in the 1950’s.  We need more beekeepers to help keep more bees and keep them healthy and alive.

Those new beekeepers need mentor’s to teach them the craft and the science and yes, the artform of beekeeping so that they will be successful going forward on their own.
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To be a successful beekeeper is a wonderful thing.  To be a beekeeping mentor is to be a mantle carrier, a friend, a teacher and a guide.  

It’s not about creating a prototype of yourself as a beekeeper.  It’s about helping a new beekeeper come into their own.

I tell all the mentor’s I train that they should expect to be “all hands on deck” as a mentor for at least the first two years of the newbee’s beekeeping adventure.

Honestly though,  if done right, you will have gained an ally and a friend for life.  

Beekeepers are amazing people.  Beekeeping Mentors can be the difference of someone trying beekeeping and quitting or becoming a beekeeper for life.

More local, fresh, raw honey ready

I have another batch of local, raw, fresh honey extracted.

Premium wildflower honey available in 3 lb jars for $20.00 each while supplies last.

Also have same top quality honey available in 5 gal (60 lbs) pails for those using honey in bulk for mead making, baking, cooking, bottle it to share with friends and family.

Bulk rates apply.  Call for pricing.



A Brief Chat About The Flow-hive

It seems the flow hive is getting renewed attention.  As usual, people are taking the least information and making dramatic, emotional cases on them.

If one understands bee biology and behavior, you don’t need to actually have a flow hive to be able to make certain deductions based on descriptions and photos.

First of all, the flow hive is not a new or different kind of hive.  It is a customized Langstroth deep box used as a honey super filled with specially designed frames.

So you still have a Langstroth hive that must be inspected and worked like any other Langstroth hive.

The idea of connecting hoses to the frames, breaking the combs and draining honey into containers outside of the hive leads an educated and experienced beekeeper to wonder how much robbing increases or becomes a factor.

The frames are supposedly viewable from the openings in the boxes allowing the beekeeper to see the ends of the frames.  Again, an educated and experienced beekeeper wonders how to determine the cells are all capped  or what percentage of them is capped without pulling the whole frame out and inspecting both sides.  Viewing from only one end of a seated frame will not allow you to confirm honey is ready to be extracted.

Large, square openings are cut into the custom boxes to allow the tubed to be attached.  Any extra openings in the wall of a hive box can allow small pests such as Small Hive Beetles and Varroa mites (though Varroa mites usually enter the hive on the backs of bees), ants, etc…to get into the hive increasing stress on the colony.

The frames themselves are questionable.  Made of plastic to resemble fully drawn out combs,  many wonder as to how well these plastic frames will withstand northern winters.

Questions about how easily the frames might become clogged have also come to many beekeepers minds.

Once again, you don’t have to actually own or have hands on a flow hive box or frame to think about these things.  Knowledge of natural honey bee biology and behavior leads us to these questions and conclusions directly.

Many beekeepers have seen the prices suggested by the makers and have them to be so excessive that purchase wouldn’t make regular use practical or cost efficient.  If bee equipment isn’t considered practical, it is often relegated to the novelty and hobbyist realm.

Really all you have is a customized deep Lang super with plastic, fully drawn plastic frames.  It looks like fun and something cool to show ones friends and customers.

Ultimately, due to cost and unanswered hive management concerns, it is pretty much an expensive toy.

Restaurant Honey Is Now Available

Hello my friends in local restaurants. It’s honey time again.

I am getting my inventory together of this year’s crop.

That’s right, top of the line, fresh, raw, local honey.


To get the best prices, you want to consider buying in volume.

I have 5 gal. pails at 60 lbs per pail of table quality honey.

Call for rates. This is NOT baker quality dark honey. This is table top quality light honey to serve, sell and bake or cook with.


Big Bear Brings Aflac To Beekeepers

I am a licensed, independent Aflac associate.  I don’t work for Aflac, I am still self employed, running my business here.

What this does though is that it allows me to bring more unique services and products to beekeepers in Nebraska and Iowa.

Beekeepers have a lot to deal with when it comes to taking care of our bees.  We also have to keep in mind that all the things we do as beekeepers carry extra risk with them.

I know that better than most.  What happens if you should get hurt while working hives in the apiary or working on hive equipment in the workshop?  I can tell you, it’s no fun at all.

Missing work because of beekeeping is stressfull.  You lose money from not getting a full paycheck or maybe no paycheck at all depending on the injury.

Many spouses are worried about their beekeepers specifically because of the worry that their beekeeper might get hurt or even worse, get stung and go into anaphylactic shock.

I am now able to give area beekeepers another tool to help them address serious concerns related to their beekeeping.

Of course, I also can also provide Aflac solutions  to anyone directly or working with local businesses.

Let’s work together to bee successful.

All it takes is about 20 minutes to bring you some information and there is no pressure to buy.

I just want people to know what is possible to help them.





Plans for Spring in the Bee Yard

Well, we’re about half way to Spring.  As of right now, us bee folks here are planning to double the number of active colonies from last year.  Providing, of course, that our current hives don’t die before Spring gets here.

As of this past weekend with the bit of a warm up we had, I took a look at the hives and they are doing well, so far.  Keep your fingers crossed that they continue to do well over Winter and we can come into Spring stronger than last year and make a lot more honey, beeswax and pollen than we did last year.


We are now out of stock of honey, thank you South Omaha

As of today, January 14th, 2015, we have exhausted our stock of local, fresh honey.

We hate to disappoint all the folks who wanted to buy some still, but there’s simply a limited supply and we have reached the bottom of the pail.

We look forward to having a bigger production next Fall and have even more of that terrific South Omaha honey to make available to everyone.

Thank you for your support.