Okanagan Bee Hives
Who We Are
HISTORY OF “Okanagan Bee Hives”
HISTORY OF “Okanagan Bee Hives”
IN THE BEGINNING: “Keesey Bees” owned by Greg & Larry Keesey operated just south of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from 2004 to 2007. We started the business after John Polson, a wildlife biologist and owner of Prairie Nectar Apiaries was looking for someone to help design and fabricate insulated and modified hives and nuc boxes. John had used insulated lids for his nucs for years. Blake Rooks, a mechanical Engineer and beekeeper, who specialized in heat loss properties in buildings had tried to convince John to insulate his bottom boards to reduce heat loss downwards. After recovering a stray nuc from the frozen ground in the spring of 2004, he noticed the ground under the nuc was completely thawed. He realized then that he was going to begin to retrofit his entire stock of nuc boxes with insulated bottom boards. Along with insulating both the lids and bottom boards to reduce heat loss, he wanted to come up with a lid that didn’t telescope, so the hives and nucs could be moved together to eliminate the undesirable space between them. Greg & Larry answered the call. After brainstorming for several days, we satisfied John’s needs and developed several additional innovative products to help simplify beekeeping. We began to mass produce our new ‘SupRNucs’ and ‘SupRHives’ and John put them into full service during 2004. We began the production of these products for the public, and soon after, began our own apiary under the name of Keesey Bees. We chose to specialize in raising and selling bees, and began using the ‘SupRHives’ and ‘SupRNucs’ exclusively starting with 100 colonies, which were easily ready to over-winter that fall. The winter of 2004/05 gave us time to build hundreds of SupRNucs. During the first winter, on a bright warm calm day in February, John, Blake, Larry and Greg carefully cracked open one of the ‘SupRHive lids, and immediately found a healthy number or bees covering the entire tops of the frames. They were not clustered as usual in the center of the hive, but were quite comfortable using the entire space. This was good news, and an indication that the effort had paid off. Our 3 years of beekeeping resulted in very healthy hives and low winter losses. When Keesey Bees sold their colonies in 2007, John Gruzka, the provincial Apiarist inspected the yards. After checking three of the top boxes in the first of five yards, he asked if all our yards were the same. After he heard “yes”, he quickly signed the permit, commented that he was very impressed with the hives and health or the colonies and was on his way.
PRESENT: After moving to Armstrong in 2009, I decided to return to the fabrication of the successful insulated hive products, and in 2011, began to market the concept in the north Okanagan. Although the climates in the Okanagan and the prairies are quite different and offer different challenges, the hive concepts are the same: Insulated hives and nucs are cooler in summer and warmer in winter, and assist bees to control ventilation and humidity more successfully. I believe that every effort should be made to provide a warm and trouble-free environment for our little workers so they can produce offspring, queens and their other by-products earlier, more efficiently and consistently, requiring less food. Several SupRNucs went into service in a yard near Armstrong in November, 2011 to test over-wintering. These nucs were situated in an open yard exposed to wind, and were only covered with pieces of tar paper. Five of the six survived, and were in excellent condition. Eight SupRHives went into operation in the spring of 2012 in the same area. They also did well, and were wrapped for the 2012/13 winter in 4-packs. At present I am still manufacturing and selling SupRNucs and SupRHives. The only real design changes for the Okanagan are the change to R-5 lids and removing the feeder hole, which is now an option. The R-10 lid for colder climates is optional.
Although I feel strongly regarding the advantages of insulated products that help to control temperature fluctuations and promote healthier colonies, I fully understand that most beekeepers prefer traditional Langstroth products. I will provide what the customer wants and will custom build to suit. Challenge me to provide you with custom products, built to your specs. I believe in quality, well built products that will stand the test of time. I enjoy trying to find better, more efficient ways to improve products and have developed several innovative bee hive and other accessories.
We like to think outside the box, while paying close attention to the basic needs of the bees and the basic concepts of beekeeping. The one concept that is not well known to many beekeepers is that insulation cools in the summer and warms during the remainder of the year.
Contrary to popular belief, there is considerable heat loss down through the bottom board. Our R-5 bottom board is standard with all our hives. Standard bottom boards are an option.
We have developed high quality insulated hive products. Along with our insulated "SupRHives and "SupRNucs", we incorporate insulation in many of our products.
We use waterproof glue and heavy duty staples along with the traditional half-lap joints, which we believe are comparable or superior in strength to the box joints.
Along with quality and attention to detail, we have developed several innovative accessories such as permanent waterproof entrance reducers.
We manufacture "Okanagan Top Bar Hives". We helped develop a "Hybrid" hive that allows bees to move up above the bars, like they do in Langstroth hives to feed in inner covers. We manufacture "double enders" to allow for two colonies to be reared in the same top bar hive.
We recently entered the "Flow Hive" market by offering several woodenware products that allow those interested in the revolutionary "Flow Hive" technology to incorporate it into their new or existing apiary or backyard operation. Check out "Flow Hives" in our "products" section.