Author Archives: bigbear

Live Bee Removal 9-2016

I had some trouble getting all of the video for this removal due to a snafu on my part.  Luckily the fella assisting on the removal had his smartphone recording still handy.

This is a brief look at a live removal from a fallen tree limb we did on September 16th, 2016.  The homeowner was very concerned about the state of the colony and if it could be rescued despite the damage to the nest.

The sky was a somewhat overcast that day and I felt it best to wear the protective gear just in case they decided to get feisty due to stress.

Below is the short video and I want to thank Mr and Mrs Don Peterson for calling BBE-Tech Apiary Services in to remove the bees safely.

Why I name my hives

I consider myself an organic beekeeper.  My beekeeping efforts prioritize conservation and sustainable hive management.  Because of these things, I spend a great deal of time and interaction with each hive.

A hive itself is only a shelter for the nest of a colony of honey bees.  Honey bees consist of three types of “castes” of bees that cannot exist without each other.  They depend on each other for survival.  The colony is itself a “super-organism”  that in my experience has shown that as a colony, expresses a singular identity and even it’s own personality.

Every colony having it’s own personality and seen as such is easier for me to identify with.  Because bees usually build their nests inside enclosed void spaces, like those made by beekeepers, seeing the hive as one entity is, for me, easier to make a personal connection with.  I see each hive sort of as a representation of one creature.  As in, there’s a dog, a cat, a deer, and look, a hive of bees.

That’s one of my hives of bees.  I have interacted with her, I refer to all of my hives as a “her”, and watched her over a period of time.  I have seen her sick and attacked by pests.  I have seen her strong and healthy and vibrant and alive.

She has a unique personality.  Just like each of my other hives.  Because of these interactions and truly, building a relationship with these hives the way I built a relationship with my dog, I give my hive a name.  I give every hive a name.

That’s how I approach being a beekeeper.


What Do I Bring To The Beekeeping Classroom?

I offer several classes on beekeeping to help folks not only know “What” to do.  Most offerings give people that.  The classes I teach go further.  They help folks know “How” to do those things, “When” to do them and perhaps most importantly, “Why” things are being done.

I come from a school of thought that encourages ongoing learning and creative development in our knowledge and skills as we gain experience.  In order to do that, we have to know more than just what steps to follow.  When we learn “What” we’re doing and “Why” we’re doing it, it allows us to expand our ability and take ownership of our activity.  Not simply be stuck as an automaton repeatedly performing the same tasks over and over again as we were programmed to do.

I want you to be the best apiarist that YOU can be, not just a replica of the apiarist that I am.

First off, I create “Study Guides” that you can use in digital pdf format and have a print out to keep as a resource to lock up those things not necessary to dedicate to long term memory.

I provide an interactive presentation with discussion, the opportunity to ask questions as you learn the material, visual and audio aids.  I also include sensory input.  People remember and make associations better when reinforced with sensory experience.  Taste, touch, feel, etc…

Depending on which class is going on, it’s possible that I will have anything from honey to live bees to beeswax and who knows what else.  For example, in my Honey Production class I bring multiple varieties of honey to help prospective honey producing apiarists identity the tastes, textures, and appearances of the product they expect to make.

The best part is, I offer these classes whenever it works best for you.  I will schedule a private class for an individual, for a group and of course, I offer the same classes through Metro Community College every quarter.

What are you waiting for?  Whether you are just getting started in beekeeping or are ready to take the next step as an apiarist, I have a class to help you bee more successful.  All you have to do is show up.

Apiarist Or Beekeeper, What’s The Difference?

On their face, there really isn’t much difference.  Technically speaking, a beekeeper is an apiarist, an apiarist is a beekeeper.  However, there are always distinctions made in language based on the times, term appropriation, even coining new terms based on existing ones.

At BBE-Tech Apiary Services, I make the distinction between beekeepers and apiarists as the difference between hobbyists and those who use bees and beekeeping to make a living.  Whether that be offering products and services as a professional or keeping bees to supplement as part of a homesteading lifestyle.

Whereas the hobbyist beekeeper has no “necessary” goals or objectives to their beekeeping.  It may just be something to do, a way to gain something else such as to support another hobby or interest like gardening, or to get wax for craft-making, etc…  They do it because they want to, not because they need to.  As such, they are hobbyists and beekeepers.

In contrast, the apiarist, by my operational perspective, is someone who is involved in beekeeping as part of a job, career or lifestyle in which their means of making a living is partially or entirely dependent on their beekeeping.    There are many forms this can take and more often than not, the apiarist will have something to do with multiple areas, not just one.  

For example, a professional apiarist may specialize or focus on offering pollination services and large-scale honey production as those two things often go hand in hand.  They may frequently be involved in raising bees to sell to other beekeepers as that also is very often directly related to the first two endeavors.

Another professional apiarist might specialize in live bee removals from buildings and trees and other areas.  Consequently, they may find themselves also involved in raising and selling bees to other beekeepers.  

Yet other apiarists may focus on “fixed” honey production.  This means they also run or have farmland their bees pollinate but are never moved off of.  They stay on location and what is planted around them is selected specifically for the honey producing qualities.   These apiarists may also be involved in harvesting beeswax and propolis to sell to craft persons and medical/pharmaceutical businesses as well.  They are often also involved in being educators of new beekeepers.

In all these cases, apiarists have a dependency on their beekeeping to make a profit or sustainable amounts of harvest-able hive products to pay their bills, put food on the table, gas in the vehicle, etc….

I personally focus on working with those I identify as Apiarists to help them to be successful in their efforts at being profitable and sustainable.  Hobbyist beekeepers, relatively, enjoy a luxury of an abundance of resources and support that can be available to them at low or no cost so long as they have the time to wait for meetings to happens, classes to be offered and volunteer mentors to have free time.  All of which are well and good as they should be.

However, the apiarists, the people trying to make something of their beekeeping as a means to make a living.  They may not have the luxury of time to wait for something or someone.  They often have to find assistance or support exactly when they need it or profit can be lost, resources wasted and critical opportunities are missed.

So my specialty is to offer support to the apiarists out there.  Whether their efforts are only a part of their income or living or entirely depended upon.  I offer support, resources, assistance, education and training on their schedule, when they need it, customized to fit their particular need and methods.

That, my friends, is the distinction I make between beekeepers and apiarists.  Nothing more and nothing less.

Enjoy your bees.

Big Bear

What’s The Buzz In Big Bear’s Workshop

As some have noticed, I use this website here at to present information about the services and products I provide directly.  Things that I “Do” for people.  I present a mixed media focus on the the things I want to share and facilitate for others on the Bee Smart website ( Between the two, I am busier than a one legged man in a hop frog contest.

This is the time of year I focus on three primary aspects of beekeeping leading up to the super busy Spring.

  • Performing Apiary/Apiarist planning sessions
  • Teaching beekeeping classes at Metro Community College
  • Building custom order hives for people interested in the Big Bear Special Hive (my version of a production organic hive) and assembling hives for those wanting to use conventional hives.

Though I focus mostly on those three areas this time of year, I also still do my R&D wax work designing and producing different kinds of candles (such as my ultra, super-awesome Shotglass Candles).

I had been selling my candles but I think no more.  I like to make them.  But as beekeeping is my business and day to day work, (which I LOVE, by the way)  I think I want to keep my wax works as a hobby.  giving them away as gifts, using them at home when the power goes out or whatever other reason I can think of to burn a candle or make lip balm or skin salve or wood protector.

I can make soap and all kinds of stuff out of beeswax.  I teach classes on how to do it at MCC.  But for an “regular” thing as part of my business or the like, I don’t want to make them for the purpose of selling them anymore.

I have to admit, my shotglass candles are very exciting to me because they make FANTASTIC gifts when matched up to a custom shotglass with a design on it that has a special connection to the person it’s given to.  You should see my new set of shotglasses I got just for around the house.  These are for me but I will will show you all a picture of them with the candle in it beecause it’s just TOO COOL!

Today in Big Bear’s Workshop: Wax Day

Mondays are beeswax working days in the workshop.  Today’s objectives are to finish “tubing” a batch of lip balm and to finally get the “shotglass” and “firecracker” candles out of R&D.

My new batch of wicking finally showed up so that I can get the candles their last test(s).  I already have people wanting to place orders so wax days are going to bee busier in the near future.

One of the myriad of things to figure out when wicking beeswax candles is not only based on the quality of the wax and the diameter of the candle but also if the candle is a taper or a container candle.

Personally, I tend to prime wicks for taper and votive candles that stand in or on holders that allow for melted wax to flow away from the flame.  For candles that are in containers which tend to keep the melted wax contained around the flame in a pool, I tend to use unprimed wicks.


Big Bear’s Beeswax Lipbalm Class

This coming Monday, I get to teach a class on making beeswax based lip balm.  The recipe is one of my favorites and the class participants will get to help make a batch and take some home with them after getting my recipe and walking through the process with me step-by-step.

A great opportunity to learn to make something useful with natural ingredients and a process that you control from beginning to end.

Come to the MCC DoSpace beeswax lip balm making class and bee creative with me.

Register for the following classes;

Please register for these classes at:

Register: • 531-MCC-5231

ANIM-061N-50 M 05:30P-08:30P 01/09-01/09 $34

ANIM-061N-51 W 01:00P-04:00P 02/01-02/01 $34



Action and thought

There is an old saying that “Action without thought is wasted energy and thought without action is a waste of time.”  Being a naturally spontaneous person, I have had to learn those lessons the hard way.  

In my work as a self employed professional apiarist, I do business as BBE-Tech Apiary Services. My work has two primary aspects ; doing things for people and teaching people to do things.

Recently I began what I have called the “Bee Smart beekeeping project”.  I even gave it a separate website.  The reason being that I want the main website here at bbe-tech to focus on communicating about the things I can do for other people.

Bee Smart on the other hand, now exists to communicate those things I teach and to help other people be better prepared to do on their own.

There is value to both.  For a variety of reasons, most people would prefer to let someone else take live bee nests out of buildings.  Also, there are services I am able to do that give beekeepers an objective perspective on such as when I do apiary and hive inspections.  Other things I am able to do very well because of experience and knowledge that others find valuable such as when I provide coaching, private instruction and hands-on  assistance.

BBE-Tech Apiary Services is where I do things for clients.

Bee Smart is where I can inform, act as a guide, make resources available and, hopefully, even entertain.  By using videos, podcasts and the ever interactive nature of the world wide web, I can not only make resources available, but I can tie them together across media.  I can, for example, make a hive inspection form for free download available on the download page of the website.  Then I can make a video to walk you through the process of using the inspection form.  Finally, I can use the podcasts, especially live “call-in” episodes, to answer specific questions emailed, left as social media messages and by talking to people, directly from the folks using the inspection form and watching the video.

I am here to help people to plan and be prepared to be better beekeepers as well as offer direct support to those people so they can accomplish what they need done, when it needs to be done.



Organic Beekeeping is harder, not easier, than most people realize

I’ve been fortunate enough to do a number of speaking presentations for groups of beekeepers and potential beekeepers lately.  During each of those discussions, the topic of organic or natural beekeeping comes up pretty frequently.  I love to see that people are thinking about being an organic beekeeper myself.

Having said that, it seems that many people do not fully understand the biological definition of “Organic” (which really must be the definition we beekeepers should be adhering to).  Even more, of the people who do express an interest in Organic beekeeping, there seems to be a rather large misunderstanding of what that really is in terms of application.

The notion that organic or natural beekeeping is functionally “easier” than conventional beekeeping is a myth that I find myself having to educate on more often than not.  It seems there are a number of people who think that by keeping bees Organically or Naturally that they don’t have to engage in the number and type of hive manipulations and treatment activities that the “conventional beekeeper would typically seem to do.

Oh no my friends, this is as far from the truth as we can get.  Organic or Natural beekeeping DEMANDS that said practitioner be very well educated in the natural biology and behaviors of the colony as a Super-Organism and individually as well.  As much if not moreso than the unfairly maligned conventional beekeepers.

Not only must Organic beekeepers be as well or better versed in biology and behavior but they must pay much closer attention to their hives, ready to take necessary actions in the hive (hive manipulations) to prevent or minimize activities or issues that conventional beekeepers might otherwise reduce or account for as part of said conventional beekeeping practices.  

Organic beekeepers face higher rates of swarming, absconding, pathogenic and environmental stresses  and even other issues because of the different options they choose to use to address these issues as compared to conventional beekeeping.  Organic beekeepers must learn how to use IPM, especially prevention and early intervention processes to it’s greatest potential.

Organic beekeepers face colony die-outs and other issues as a part of their choice to use an approach that by definition, “…attempts to mimic or emulate the successful, natural behaviors, traits, etc… of other, like  creatures”  as opposed to using synthetic chemicals or avoidable toxins of any kind to treat as a prophylactic, preventative or as an intervention.  In this case, the “like creatures” we are basing on are successful wild or feral honey bee colonies.

Because Organic beekeepers have thus elected to restrain ourselves thusly in our beekeeping endeavors, there can often be a very high level of stress and feelings of being unsuccessful as a result.  There is a saying that nearly 50% of all new beekeepers quit beekeeping within the first two years, mostly due to feeling unsuccessful.  I would venture to say that there is likely a 75% or higher “drop-out” rate of Organic beekeepers in comparison.

No beekeeping happens by “Magic”.  Somehow, there are people who have gotten the impression that Organic or natural beekeeping somehow “magically” is not subject to the same biological laws that all bees must adhere to.  Organic beekeeping is different beekeeping.  It requires an extraordinary amount of preparation, effort and resilience to be successful doing it. 

Organic beekeeping is not “automatically” easier or “nicer” to bees than conventional beekeeping.  Anyone who says so is only lying to themselves.  Someone thinking that Organic beekeeping means not having to manipulate hives, pull honey, or that bees will just “magically” do everything just fine all on their own if we just leave them alone is delusional.  Beekeeping is a combination of craftsmanship “art” and science.  Organic or natural beekeeping even more so.

Organic beekeeping is not for the lazy or ignorant.  I say that not to insult anyone but to put it out there for anyone wanting to be successful as an Organic beekeeper.  You will lose bees often as an Organic beekeeper.  That is a given.  Organic beekeepers often experience a higher hive loss rate than conventional beekeepers.  Partly due to Organic beekeepers intentionally including “Selection” (natural or Beekeeper motivated) instead of toxic treatments.The intended trade off is to let weak genetics be removed from the gene pool leaving the strong to survive and thereby creating more successful bee colonies in the region to be locally adapted and bringing out successful survival traits as opposed to weak or dependent ones.

Organic beekeepers forsake short term success for long terms gains.  It requires an outlook of investment of time, effort, energy, and more instead of perhaps one of financial investment.  Certainly not a venture to undertake lightly or without full appreciation of the “Big Picture”.

Do you want to be an Organic beekeeper?  Terrific!  I would love to help you be successful doing that if you would like professional support to do so.  If you are in my service area (the greater Omaha/Metro area in Nebraska) please know that you can count on me to do everything I can and use my collected experience and knowledge to your greatest advantage.

Tony “Big Bear” Sandoval