Linda Reekie and Linda Worswick are both residents of Harmony Village, a 27-home co-housing community located in Golden Colorado. Reekie (left), who has a degree in environmental resource management, loves gardening and got involved with bees four years ago when she saw the need for pollination. With the help of her friend Worswick, she spent two years before seeing any success with the bees.
A newly retired physical therapist and one of the founders of Harmony Village, Worswick, has been keeping bees for 20 years. She started because of orchards on the property. “It increases productivity if you have bees nearby,” she said. “It was the intent of this community to have agriculture. I’ve always been fascinated with bees, in their hierarchy, as a group, as individuals, and the way they organize their community,” she said. Bees are not native to the US. They came from Europe. Settlers brought them with plants that depended on the bees.
Both Reekie and Worswick prefer the community’s Slovenian hive and Top Bar hive to their traditional Langstroth hive. “A Langstroth hive has this plastic foundation, and that’s what the bees build out,” said Reekie. “With the Top Bar hive, “you just have the top piece, and the bees build out the whole dang thing.” “As if it were a branch on a tree they have gone into,” added Worswick.
The Slovenian hives open up in the back, where the work is done. Because of this, a bee keeper can work with the bees any time of year. Bees are not disturbed, and there is no need to smoke them. Smoking makes the bees think there is a forest fire, panics them, causes them to collect the honey and prevents them from stinging.
Worswick’s favorite thing about keeping bees is watching them. She describes observing them coming back to the hives after their harvest. “When they’re full of pollen and they land, they communicate with the other bees with a waggle dance telling where they got their pollen,” she said. “They literally say, ‘it’s five minutes that way and so many minutes that way.’ They will harvest from one particular area and harvest it all out before they move onto the next one.”
“Once you have success,” said Reekie, “you want to keep going. I think it’s important to have bees around to pollinate. In the last two years we got 25 pounds of honey. And the honey is a nice addition at the end.”