Author Archives: bigbear

Things have to change

Due to a variety of market influences priorities have to change as they always do.  For those who know me and have worked with me over the past few years, there is nothing more I love than working with bees and beekeeping on a full time basis as a career path.

Having said that, sometimes don’t go the way they are planned.  As a self-employed person, I have to keep working.  When there isn’t the demand for one kind of work, then another must be found.

Things that will continue to happen…

I will continue to teach bee and beekeeping classes at Metro Community College for the foreseeable future.

I will be teaching beeswax crafts classes at Mangelsen’s at least once per month for the foreseeable future.

I will continue to run the Bee Smart beekeeping project website and podcast.

Live bee removal and relocation.

Ongoing collaboration on beekeeping training as part of the Bee Smart beekeeping project at Scattered Joy Acres in Florence area.

Things that are no longer being offered…

Hive and Apiary inspections and certification.

Individual coaching.

Hive and Apiary management services.


On teaching beekeeping

As the beekeeping instructor and trainer at a few places around the Omaha metro area, I am always looking for new information, different methodologies, most current best practices and techniques.  It’s my job.  

The way I see it, by even putting myself out there as an instructor means that there will be people who see and read things in various books, magazines, videos and from other people and they are going to want more details about those things.  They often expect an instructor to be able to answer  at least most of those questions.

So I study apiculture every day of my life.  I am in many ways more a student of apiculture than an instructor because I am always seeking new and different information.

When I am in the instructor/trainer position, it is my goal to teach people how to be successful beekeepers and apiarists according to their goals, objectives, locality and means.  The very last thing I want to do is teach people to be the beekeeper that I am.  

If all I ever accomplish is having students answer beekeeping questions with, “That’s what my instructor/trainer/mentor told me to do.” then I have failed as an instructor.  I endeavor to have beekeepers I work with to be able to be self reliant.  To know what their own goals and objectives are and the general practices and techniques to reach those goals and objectives.

Beekeeping is not just local, it’s individual.  It’s local in that the locality greatly impacts the success of the hives.  Local environment, weather, forage availability, etc…   Beekeeping is individual because almost every about you as a person is part of your beekeeping experience.  Your personal, political, even religious beliefs can affect your beekeeping decisions.

Trying to teach you to be the beekeeper that I am and having you learn only to mimic what I do is robbing you of your best experience and potential for success such as you define success by your determined goals and objectives.  I can’t bring myself to do that.

Instead, I make the effort to present the facts and most common knowledge so that you can make your own, informed decisions.  I encourage students and trainees to always ask questions about how the information applies or what more specific information might apply to their own beekeeping.

Any one can read a book or watch a video and gain information.  People take classes so that they can ask questions and get first hand experience in a controlled environment where they aren’t going in alone.

So I continue to study and learn to answer your questions and I continue to work at beekeeping so that I am able to pass along experienced and informed information.

I don’t believe there is a universal right or wrong way to go about beekeeping.  I think there is usually a best way for each individual beekeeper and their bees.

BBE-Tech Apiary Services Teams Up with Scattered Joy Acres

It bee exciting news!

BBE-Tech Apiary Services has teamed up with Scattered Joy Acres in Florence to set up a teaching apiary in which beekeeping classes, workshops and Apprenticing opportunities will be available.

As part of the collaboration, Tony “Big Bear” Sandoval will operate and manage the growing apiary for Scattered Joy Acres providing training and apprenticing for Scattered Joy Acres staff and volunteers.  

Teaching new beekeepers what to look for to keep healthy hives.

Bees for the hive will be gotten from swarm captures and live bee removals from houses and properties that hire BBE-Tech Apiary Services for those captures and removals.  Colonies that are healthy enough and survive will be candidates for placement at that apiary location.

Honey from those hives operated at the Scattered Joy Acres Apiary will be used for fundraising and operational purposes by Scattered Joy Acres.

The Scattered Joy Acres Apiary will be the primary training and certification program offered by BBE-Tech Apiary Services.  Special hands-on classes, certification testing, workshops and training opportunities will be able to be conducted at that location.

All in all, this is a tremendous opportunity of collaboration between Scattered Joy Acres and BBE-Tech Apiary Services to provide unique self-reliance learning and values of stewardship to area residents.

Working Bees Up the Creek, in Honey Creek, IA

Sometimes a beekeeper just needs a hand from someone with more experience in a particular area.  Today I was assisting a first year beekeeper who has gotten a good start at beekeeping to check out his hives.

Floyd started with 2 hives this Spring and sound up giving 2 swarms since.  Last inspection, he bought one of his original 2 colonies had gone queenless.  Turns out, he was right.

Looking for evidence of a queen.

After determining that the colony was indeed queenless, we “borrowed” a frame of eggs from one of the other hives.  It’s still not too late to have the colony to raise a queen, though I did tell him to look around for a mated queen supplier just in case.

After that, we did a thorough check and cleanup of all the other hives.  We scraped burr and brave comb.  We removed excess propolis from frame rests, and we tidied up in general.

Clean up your act you messy bees!

We’ll do a follow up call with Floyd in a few days to see if there are queens being raised from the eggs we put in.  

For a cloudy day the bees were on their best behavior.  It had rained sometime before and the barometric pressure wasn’t too low so no stings for us.  Yay!

Lots of good little bees here.

This opportunity to bee of assistance to a local beekeeper was brought to you in part by the wonderful folks that support us at the Bee Smart Patreon page  You can bee part of the solution and help us help bees and beekeepers by becoming a Bee Smart supporter also.

Doing things differently

Several people, after reading my post yesterday of discontinuing coaching and residential live bee removal services, messaged me asking me to reconsider.  They appreciate my ability to offer professional apiarist advice and services, especially to those unable to find suitable (being insured, having appropriate experience, equipment, etc…).

So I thought “Let’s try something different”.  Many times hobby beekeepers really are unable to afford to pay for services.  This goes for residential homeowners as well.  Let’s see if we can build a group of supporters to chip in and contribute so that I can continue to make a living (family wants clothes, food, shelter, that kind of stuff.  I need insurance, tools, equipment and gas at the very minimum, all of which isn’t free).

So since we have the Bee Smart Patreon page already up and running and we can turn those into interesting media and content, let’s get a group of supporters to help contribute to making sure I can provide those services on an ongoing basis.

You don’t need to be a beekeeper or have any other interest in bees or beekeeping to help.  Just go to the Patreon page and sign up at any of the existing levels of support and we can make these services continue to happen for folks .

Up the Creek, Honey Creek, IA that is

Driving up to visit a beekeeper in Honey Creek, IA later this morning.  We’re looking at possibly combining a couple of small hives and doing a full inspection on another.

Video and photos will be done for Bee Smart and hopefully a video chat with a relatively new beekeeper.  This is all part of the plan to give people more useful and entertaining information about beeing successful.

You can help us help others and keep sharing creative content on the Bee Smart beekeeping project website by becoming a voluntary supporter  over at the Patreon page.  It’s a great way you can do something to help bees and beekeepers bee successful.

Some changes in what bee services I offer

In order to best allocate resources and put the best effort and resources into areas with the greatest opportunity, BBE-Tech Apiary Services will discontinue offering beekeeping coaching and residential live bee removals.

Much focus on offering information and content in the Bee Smart beekeeping project website and podcast will be the next step as well as offering professional apiarist training while operating S.O.Bee Apiaries as well.

I will also continue to manage production apiaries for business clients to provide them with beeswax and honey for their use.

More videos on Bee Smart are coming with product reviews, tips and tricks and visiting beekeepers all around are coming as well.

Please consider becoming a voluntary supporter of the Bee Smart beekeeping project at the Patreon page to help us continue to bring useful and entertaining information to the web.

What Level of Beekeeping?

To start off with, or, In the beginning…

Beekeeping is growing as both a hobby and people trying to find ways to work as a professional.  The ranks of the “Beginning Beekeepers” have been growing for a few years now pretty regularly.  

When people first approach the idea of getting into beekeeping, they generally start looking for resources to learn about doing it first.  Where do they begin?

Where do you get your information?

Oh the Information Age has opened the doors to accessing information like mankind hasn’t seen before.  There are more beekeeping books than one can count.  There are clubs and Associations that have meetings and presentations.  There there is the internet and all of the resources of the World Wide Web.  Blogs, videos, Wikis, Social media…  The list goes on.

It can be overwhelming for the aspiring apiarist to know where and how to start.  With such a plethora of options it can be difficult to know where to start, which has “good” information and maybe isn’t the best choice to pay attention to.

With all of that, there is an overwhelming number of options directly aimed at the beginner and emphasizing “Beginning Beekeeping”.  People and companies telling you that in getting started, you should trust them to get you on the path to beekeeping success.  Ah but who to trust?  I always suggest getting a mentor or coach,  they can point you to trustworthy resources usually then you can expand from there.

Two levels

Personally, I don’t look at beekeeping in terms of “beginner” and such.  Everything one needs to know at minimum covers everything in the first two years of beekeeping.  I refer to that stage or level as “Basic”.  Anything you know and learn beyond or expanding upon the basics is “Advanced” beekeeping.

The reason I personally avoid jumping on the “Beginner” bandwagon is that in apicultural pursuits, we are always learning something new.  In a sense, we are always a “beginner” at something in beekeeping.  I know beekeepers who’ve been at it for thirty years and decide to go into a different aspect like top bar beekeeping and to them, they feel like a “beginner” even though they have the basic beekeeping information down pat and backwards.

As a coach, mentor, instructor and trainer in both hobby and professional beekeeping, I am personally still always learning something new about the field.  Every day.  I have said before that I am a beginner in perpetuity when it comes to bees and beekeeping because there is just so much we still don’t know or understand yet.

My advice to being a beekeeper

I think Yoda said it best when he told Luke Skywalker, “There is no try, do or do not.”,  or something like that.  Essentially it comes down to getting in there and playing with bees.

I ALWAYS suggest doing an apprenticeship first.  If not an actual training program then a voluntary agreement to assist an experienced and knowledgeable beekeeper if you can find one, for at least one season before getting your own bees.

I like to recommend a pdf book put out by MAAREC called, “Basic Beekeeping” (you can download it for free from the downloads page on this website).  I find it to be an exceptional resource and provides the Information one will need to engage in successful beekeeping.  Whether it’s at the beginning of your experience or further down the road.

Take actual classes at a local community college or the like.  The opportunity to ask questions that a static resource like a book, website or video can’t do will be invaluable.  As long as you actually ask the questions.  Remember, in a class, there are no stupid questions because the whole point of being there is to learn something new.

Join a local beekeeping association or club if one is available and they are active.  Even if you only meet one person that you can connect with, it will be time well spent.

The important thing is to get out there as actually”do” something.  Reading about it, watching videos and so on can only give you so much.

The S.O.Bee Experiment in 2018

Plans for 2018 beekeeping involve setting up a “distributed” apiary around the South Omaha community.  

The things I am looking at in this experiment are the results of keeping hives further apart from each other than in a typical bee yard where hives can literally be side by side next to each other.

The plan is to place 2 hives per location, no closer than 10 feet part and up to approximately 50 feet apart ideally.  

Some of the reasons for the placement is to see the effects of disease and pest presence and impact on separated and widely distributed hives.  These will be compared to a control group at a standard apiary where hives are within 2 feet of each other. 

The properties the distributed hives are on will be at private residence properties in the general area from the Missouri river to 72nd St and from about Martha St to Harrison St.

The hives will be 8 frame hives managed for honey and beeswax production.   The property owners will not have to put up any money to be a part of the project but “might” be able to get a share of honey depending on if hives survive, produce a surplus and stay healthy.


Bee Better Business

Do you reward staff for exemplary effort?  Do you thank clients for loyalty with perks?  Do you give small, memorable gifts to guests to keep you in mind?

Nothing says “special” like fresh, natural items from the hive.  Decorative jars of honey, hand made candles and soaps, lip balm and skin creams.

What better way to let others know that your business is dedicated to quality and dedication.  That commitment to excellence is more than just a slogan, it’s how you make things happen.

You can have all those things to offer and stand out in the community because of your efforts in conservation.  Bee conservation.

I bring a special and personalized opportunity to local businesses by helping them to establish apiaries where they are or on selected properties and managing those hives in a way that keeps bees alive, healthy and thriving while producing high quality products of the hive such as honey and beeswax items just for their use.

They are your hives, your apiaries and your harvest.  As a professional, certified Apiarist, I can manage the hives, care for the bees, harvest only the surplus and make the items you want to share, preparing them with your choice of containers, labels and presentation.

Bee unique, bee a standout, bee your best.

Contact me, Tony “Big Bear” Sandoval, the S.O.Bee at 402-370-8018 by phone or text to arrange a free consultation on making your business bee even more special.