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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi: I was wondering if there are any beekeepers that can give tips or share their lessons learned about keeping bees at high elevation.

I live at 7000 feet on the Colorado Rockies.
 

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I have been keeping bees in high elevation (7000') for 23 years. My yard locations provide micro-climate temperature variations. Humidity is quite low year round, high summer daily temperatures, rapid cool-downs after sunset. I have managed to keep my bees alive and productive. I inspected 3 yards yesterday (33 colonies) and found 2 hives had died out. Bees were starting to collect pollen in abundance (Siberian elm). The best 'tip" I would offer is to raise your own local bees (splits) from established healthy colonies. Raise your own queens and also introduce locally bred and adapted regional queens for genetic diversity. Refrain from package bees. Don't rob your colonies in the fall of their hard earned honey stores and feed back sugar syrup. Secure good yard locations for your bees.
 

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I had bees in Laramie (7,200 feet). The two hard things are the constant wind and the extreme cold. They still manage to do pretty well considering that if the books are right, then they could probably only fly two days out of the year... ;)
 

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I keep a few colonies in Rye and Beulah (6800 ft and 6400 ft), they actually do really well. I don't overwinter them there, I bring them back to the plains. And then there's the bears.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm trying to stay with locally raised bees and splits. This year I'm going to try overwintering Nucs. I'm not there yet with queen rearing. My planned hive set up is 2 deeps for the bees and medium supers for honey collection. I have bear resistant fencing (electric). Thanks for the advice!
 

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I go 2 deeps and mediums for honey supers. The hives in Rye are in tree stands but in Beulah they sit in a mountain meadow which is easy access for bears. Bears, racoons, people, all nuisances lol. I typically split in the mountains right before the clover blooms, it's a gargantuan flow and the bees don't seem to mind the cold nights as they are pretty used to it from where I keep them on the plains.
 

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Hello from Collbran Colorado 6000' rocky mountains.well so far i have keep bees here for now 5 winters so far only lost one hive this year upon inspection didn't find the queen she must have died late fall.only a few thousand bees that were still in hive. Plenty of stores left as well I keep them in two deeps they usually have honey left by the time the dandelions show up same time i do my inspections.I do put my ear on the hive and listen for them just did it in fact still have 10 out of 11
what questions do you have that i can maybe answer for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Do you guys wrap your hives for winter? Do any supplemental feeding?
I have been able to get a couple of apiary sites down in the valley where spring comes earlier. How much honey do you produce for collection at higher elevations? A couple of local beekeepers on the mountaintop were I live get about 30 lbs. per hive. How do you deal with the wind? The area I live in gets big wind. I'm working on some type of wind screening or fencing.
Thanks for the great info!
 

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Hey neighbor,
Sure, lots. Come to a Northern Colorado Beekeepers meeting sometime and meet a bunch of us :). You'll definitely need to be prepared to feed if the drought keeps up, depending of course on your location. I don't wrap anymore, but it probably doesn't hurt as long as you make sure they have ventilation. Bears are the worst... lost several colonies last year when the fence energizer failed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I joined and I will be at next months meeting. Are you near PS? The area I live in is very open so the bears don't like the wide open space. I still plan on a full electric fence setup.
 

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I keep bees down in the Southern Rockies around 6700-8000 feet. It is cold and a bit windy. We get a fair amount of snow, but it is still dry as a bone. I don't wrap in winter, I overwinter nucs, and fear bears more than mites. Our queen raising season is only about a month and a half due to the monsoons.

The trick to overwintering them in my location is to ensure they are healthy going into winter and give them some emergency feed. Our freezes are typically very cold, but broken up every few days by a 40 degree day so they can move around and eat. It is actually harder to overwinter in the lower desert elevations in my opinion. Too warm and the colony never sleeps for winter.

I LOVE breeding queens at high elevation. I have a local mountain-top I do it on. They come out dark, dark, dark. The last set of queens I did came out almost black. You can definitely tell them apart from the lower elevation types. I think it is a regional thing, so it would surprise me if yours were the same. We have such a small window it is a bit hard to do when you add my work schedule into the mix. So it is a bit of a treat when I do it.
 

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I keep bees in a valley that is at 6500 ft. I move the hives there in May and move them out by the end of October. Most years they do quite well. Their nectar flow usually quits by the end of August, but they continue to collect pollen through September.

One advantage of this valley is that spring starts later so I often move my nucs or splits here in May because the dandelions are just starting to bloom.
 

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no wrapping,no feeding unless its honey,full sun all day,they usually block the holes they don't want,as far as wind goes snow usually covers them before it gets too bad and the top entrances are facing opposite direction from the wind
 

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I live at 7400 ft going into my third year, guess I didn't realize it might be different at higher elevations for the bees. I do wrap mine with black tar paper, and though I fed them this year, I didn't last year. This year it has been unseasonably warm which makes for higher activity and food consumption. I notice that the first thing I see them doing is dragging in pollen from the pine trees, way before the dandelions show up.
 

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No wrap, No feed until March, then only honey if needed. Not at 6000' ft. but it is actually colder in the valley than the surrounding mountains at 8000-11,000 ft. High mountain desert climate, bitter cold winters and blazing hot summers. I've been asked to put bees at higher elevations but then I would have to bear proof the out yard. :pinch:
 

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Yes, it is much colder in the flat lower elevations - believe it or not. This winter the night-time temp hovered around 8-10 degrees when it was about 25-30 above the treeline at 7000'. I think it is due to the trees holding heat. The desert holds nothing, and is burning hot obviously.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
A couple of new sites I'm looking at either have full sun and full force wind or less sun and less wind. Our strong winds in the front range come out of the SW.

Right now I'm planning for full sun and some type of wind fencing or screening. Maybe wrapping.

Thoughts?
 

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To me the real issue of the wind in Laramie as opposed to here in Nebraska, it seems like it blows all the time here in Nebraska, and pretty much it does,but in Laramie it was at a higher speed all the time. The word that comes to mind is "relentless". I would have tipi poles set up in the form of a tipi with no cover and the wind would always eventually blow them over. So yes, I think winds are a problem. I could see the bees doing convoluted paths to and from their destinations, dodging the wind. They might flow low and behind things in some kind of zig zag going and then drift with the wind straight back. I think a wind break would have been a good plan Maybe sheets of plywood wired to "T" posts and an angle brace to keep the relentless wind from blowing it down...
 
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