Community Agriculture Alliance: Minding your bees
For STeamboat Pilot & Today
Most of the time when people think about Colorado Parks and Wildlife, they think about the big critters — elk, deer, moose, bears, bighorn sheep, mountain lions and maybe fish. They don’t give a lot of thought to the little animals — field mice, mysis shrimp and bees. But in a big biological circle, everything is connected. In that way, it is important that CPW help with the little things.
While everyone appreciates beautiful flowers in the spring and fresh veggies from a backyard garden or local farm, it’s a fairly safe bet that most people don’t understand the significant role that bees play in our daily lives. These tiny creatures, that come in 20,000 varieties worldwide, are responsible for the pollination of many flowers and crops.
It isn’t just honey bees that do that work, in fact, honey bees are generally not as good at pollination as some native bee subspecies — for example cutter bees and alkali bees tend to be preferred for pollination of alfalfa, a critical crop to support the American cattle industry and one of the main crops in Routt County. Bees are important, especially to agriculturalists. And where you’ve got bees — whether you’re a backyard hobbyist or you run a commercial apiary — you’re likely to attract bears looking for all that delicious, calorie-rich honey.
That’s where CPW can get involved. While many ag producers know that CPW provides fencing materials and game damage payments, they may not be aware that the agency is able to provide protective supplies for beehives and apiaries.
The agency game damage program offers solar-powered, electric fence charging kits and some good old-fashioned advice to help protect hives from bears. CPW specialists with the Game Damage Unit can provide detailed information about how to build a properly grounded electric fence around beehives.
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Download a complete guide to building a hive enclosure on the CPW website at cpw.state.co.us/Documents/LandWater/PrivateLandPrograms/GameDamage/HiveEnclosureBrochure.pdf. Colorado Parks and Wildlife can also offer other tips for not attracting bears to your property, such as safe storage of feed, proper trash disposal and tips for pasture fencing.
The best place to start is always with local district wildlife manager. Contact the Steamboat Springs office of Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 970-870-2197. The local district wildlife manager can provide an on-site assessment of bear attractants and can put you in touch with the agency’s game damage team of specialists.
Kyle Bond is the district wildlife manager for Steamboat Springs South.
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