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Late Summer 2017 availability

September 4, 2017
by melanie

School has started! And Melanie has relocated 3/4 time to pursue graduate studies in international bee breeding at Washington State University!

Though it has been 20 years! since Melanie has been in “school” hitting the books, she has been in full time enrollment at the school of street sense. ūüôā

As of this date, ZQB does not have any mated queens available EXCEPT for a small final batch of Enchanted Empress Breeder Companions. The final orders will be going out this week and if there are any left, we will open availability for first come first served orders.

For late season availability of ZQB integrated queen stock, we recommend the following queen producers:

Heitkam’s Honeybees, Tel:¬† (530) 865-9562

Wings of Nature Bees, Tel: 650 862 8322 Email: wingsofnaturebees@gmail.com

Old Sol Apiaries, Tel: 541-582-2337

and the WSU Program Queens, Email:  bhopkins@wsu.edu

For the 2018 bee season, we anticipate continuing our longevity-based breeder program and will again focus on sharing Enchanted Empress Breeding Stock with queen producers, researchers and for community projects.

This season, we were able to share some packages of ZQB lineage bees and ZQB mated queens in mid May. We will consider this again for 2018 but at this time, do not know what our spring schedule will be since both Melanie and Mark will be conducting research and consulting opportunities.

We normally begin taking reservations right after MLK holiday weekend in late January.

Should there be any questions, email us at ziaqueenbees@hotmail.com

Merci- Thank you- Gracias


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Herbs4Bees: From Bloom to Boom Field Day- June 16, 2017

June 3, 2017
by melanie

Herbs4Bees is a project inspired by local farmers, beekeepers and researchers who are committed to promoting healthy forage for pollinators and humans.


Read more at www.herbs4bees.com

A FREE Field day is being offered June 16, 2017 at the NMSU- Alcalde Sustainable Agriculture Science Center and Embudo.

The 9am-noon agenda includes lectures by chemist Dr. Don Hyder of San Juan College (Farmington) with information on analyzing NM medicinal honeys, Dr. Jay Evans- Director of the USDA National Bee Lab with current research into pollinator health, Dr. Olivia Messinger- author of Know the Bees in your Backyard (Princeton Press), Dr. Julie McIntyre- Southwest Pollinator coordinator for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Todd Bates of NM Native Plant Recyclers will give a guided tour of his oregano farm and talk about the medicinal properties of oregano de la sierra (bee balm; wild bergamot), Rob Heyduck- NMSU Alcalde Research Horticulturist with info on the process of sampling and analyzing medicinal herbs, and Melanie Kirby of Zia Queenbees Farm & Field Institute with information on how habitat nurtures locally adapted pollinators and value added products for human wellness.

h4b field day flier

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ME News Blog #3 THE BEES IN YOUR BACKYARD- Princeton Press

April 26, 2017
by melanie

Here is a blog post I wrote for Mother Earth News about Dr. Olivia Messinger-Carril who co-authored, The Bees in Your Backyard – about native pollinators. http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/bees-in-your-backyard-zbcz1704


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WSU June 2017 Beekeeping Short Course & Rearing High Quality Queens

April 22, 2017
by melanie

I’ll be joining the Washington State University Sheppard Bee Lab this summer to help them rear queens!

They are offering several bee workshops the 2nd week of June- which I will be assisting with. If you are interested in a summer short course on rearing queens, this event is your ticket. Instructors include Dr. Steve Sheppard, Dr. Brandon Hopkins, Sue Cobey and Melanie Kirby.

Visit http://entomology.wsu.edu/apis/  or scroll down to read more and click on links for registration details.

Workshops offered by the WSU Honey Bee Program

bee keepingWSU Beekeeping Short Course

June 9-10, 2017

Interested in starting some bee colonies or want more confidence in working and caring for these? This 2 day course will cover bee biology, pest/disease identification, colony management, honey bee IPM, and gloveless beekeeping. The format is a combination of instruction and hands on demonstration. Bring a bee veil, whatever protective clothing you are comfortable in, and lots of questions.

Instructors: Steve Sheppard, Susan Cobey & WSU Bee Lab graduate students

Registration fees $125; To register for this workshop, you have the option to:

Print out a hard copy of the registration form and mail it to the Department of Entomology along with the payment for your registration fee

‚áí Click here for a printable Registration Form


Fill out a registration form that can be submitted online

⇒ Click here to register with an online form.

Location:¬† Ensminger Pavilion, Washington State University Campus ‚Äď Pullman, WA

Mail to:

Adam Williams  Washington State University  Dept. of Entomology 166 FSHN    P.O. Box 646382  Pullman, WA 99164-6382

Rearing High Quality Queens

June 11, 2017

The one day workshop will present what it takes to rear high quality queens. Basic biology and various methods of queen rearing will be presented. The workshops emphasize hands on instruction in queen rearing methods, with lecture and demonstrations. Students will be involved in various steps including: setting up cell builders, grafting, and establishing mating nuclei. Both queen right and queen-less systems will be demonstrated. Bring a bee veil and whatever protective clothing you are comfortable in.

Instructors: Steve Sheppard, Susan Cobey & WSU Bee Lab graduate students

Registration fees $175; To register for this workshop, you have the option to:

Print out a hard copy of the registration form and mail it to the Department of Entomology along with the payment for your registration fee

‚áí Click here for a printable Registration Form


Fill out a registration form that can be submitted online

⇒ Click here to register with an online form.

Location:¬† Ensminger Pavilion, Washington State University Campus ‚Äď Pullman, WA

Click here for the 2016 Beekeeping Short Course schedule, the 2017 schedule will be posted soon.

Mail to:

Adam Williams  Washington State University Dept. of Entomology166 FSHN  P.O. Box 646382  Pullman, WA 99164-6382

APIS Molecular Systematics Laboratory, Washington State University; Dr. Steve Sheppard, Contact Us


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ME News Post #2 by M. Kirby

March 30, 2017
by melanie

Here is the link for my 2nd blog post for ME News!

Apitherapy: Bees as Medicinal Midwives

Making magic with plants and flowers has its roots deeply entwined in the interspatial relationships over millennia with insects as pollinators. Pollinators procured the sweet and tangy nectars and the rich and robust pollens for their own nutrition and self-medication. In so doing, they have helped to fertilize flowering plants and thus, have served as midwives to blooms across the globe producing food and medicine for varied species for millennia.


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I blog for Mother Earth News!

March 27, 2017
by melanie

Back in late November 2016, I was invited to give a presentation in Portland, Oregon for the Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference. I had the great pleasure of meeting the keynote presenter Natasha Bowen- a new mother and author of, “The Color of Food.” http://thecolorofood.com/

We ate breakfast together and I shared with her that I am a writer, too. We shared insights with each other on everything from new motherhood to being a person of mixed heritage choosing to work as farmers in America. She encouraged me to branch out with my writing and introduced me to Kale Roberts of Mother Earth News, who invited me to become a blogger.

So- here goes…my first blog post for ME News. I hope you enjoy it and will continue to follow my blog!


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In Her Majesty’s Chambers: Introduction to Queen Honey Bee Breeding & Rearing April 8-9, 2017 Gilroy, CA

March 7, 2017
by melanie

Learn to BEE a pro-active honey bee steward by raising quality queens for backyard to commercial applications.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Cost is $200 and includes manual, cell cups, cages, class theory and field practicum instruction

Instructor Melanie Kirby has been keeping bees professionally for 20 years. She specializes in survivor stock; conducting exchanges of quality honey bee stock with beekeepers around the nation.

To Register and for more information, Contact dave.stocks@yahoo.com

Tel: 408.605.3977

For slideshow, click on play arrow or visit http://www.smilebox.com/playBlog/4e4455784e5455324e44673d0d0a&blogview=true

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2017 Starter Nuclei & and Queen Availability

January 3, 2017
by melanie

This year we’ll be offering limited production as we begin to work on additional research and consulting projects. For more info on our new projects, see the previous post- A New Era for ZQB…

For 2017, we are offering a variety of services and products like previous seasons. However, our bee availability is reserved for established queen producers and breeders, research endeavors and community oriented service and outreach programs. We are not able to accommodate orders for the general public this year. If you are interested in packages of bees through our collaborative affiliations- we will have a limited # available. More details on availability in an upcoming post.

Pollination– Contact Melanie at 505.901.2102 or email ziaqueenbees@hotmail.com for pricing and availability.

Starter Nuclei (only available for research and community oriented projects)- Call us at 505.929.8080 (Mark) or 505.901.2102 (Mel) or Email us at ziaqueenbees@hotmail.com. Cost is $250 Langstroth (4 frames). Limited top bar/warre dimension combs available upon request- Cost is $280 (6 combs).

Virgin Queens (available late April through September)- contact Melanie at 505.901.2102 (text for faster response) or Email. Advance reservation required (2 weeks minimum in advance). All virgin queens grafted from selected ZQB Longevity-based Breeder Pool. Each virgin queen will need to be placed in their own mating nucleus hive (split) and allowed to mate out with area drones and establish laying posture (approx. 3 weeks). This is a good way to integrate quality cross stocks. Cost: $20/virgin (shipped in JzBz cages within 3 days of emergence  to ensure exoskeleton hardiness and with attendants in each cage for prolonged viability; must be installed promptly and left uninterrupted for minimum 2 weeks). Added shipping cost through USPS Express shipping for locations east of the Mississippi; Priority flat rate available for locations west of the Mississippi.

Enchanted Empress Breeder Companions (available June-September)- contact Melanie at 505.901.2102 (text for faster response) or Email. All Breeder Companions are mated out in isolated mating apiaries in the southern Rocky Mountains. Diverse survivor drone stock saturates each mating zone giving cross stocks with diverse genetics capable of integrating into existing or developing breeding programs and rearing operations. Cost is $200/each (Includes marking. Conservative clipping available upon request). Express USPS Shipping with insurance add $35.00 (up to 10 queens in same container shipped in JzBz cages with attendants).

Package Bees (limited availability- reserved for established beekeepers)- We are collaborating with a couple of queen producers and developing bee breeders in other parts of the country to produce package bees with ZQB cross-stock lineage. We don’t have any firm #s of availability yet but we’ll post that info as soon as we can. If you are interested- make contact with us and let us know for how many as we are starting a list. These packages won’t be available until late April at the earliest. Cost still to be determined; approx $200 for 3# package.

Consultation– Melanie and Mark are each available for consulting opportunities. Each is skilled in advanced beekeeping and queen breeding facilitation and manifestation. Whether looking for one person or a team to help with developing or advancing existing programs- each is capable of assisting and coaching all levels of stewards and diverse apicultural projects. Consultation fee depends on location and duties required. All travel, lodging and per diem expenses are to be assumed by inquiring parties along with consultant honorarium. For requests, please submit in writing nature of requested assistance, location, and duration by email to ziaqueenbees@hotmail.com. Follow up telephone/conferencing interviews will be scheduled prior to decision.

Honey, Propolis, Royal Jelly, Beeswax Arts, etc. – We will be offering honey and other bee medicines as usual.

Honey: Limited quantity available from 2016 season. Pure and Raw, Unfiltered NM varietals from spring (Rio Grande Bosque Bliss), summer (Santa Fe & Taos), and fall blooms (Ojo Caliente and Christ in the  Desert Monastery).  2017 honeys will not be harvested until June at the earliest for spring bloom; August for summer blooms; and October for fall blooms. Retail is $1/ounce. Limited wholesale accounts offered for like-minded enterprises.

Propolis: Mark makes a mean tincture- destined to help with any ailment, from skin conditions to internal infections. Tincture is $10/bottle (infused in grain alcohol). Capsules also available for $3/capsule. Our pure NM propolis is also available by the pound for $150 in usuable, small flakes that are easy to dissolve. Also available is propolis balm at $15/jar (made with organic coconut oil and NM propolis).

Royal Jelly: Mel conducts specific grafts in different apiaries for royal jelly production. Our process is different as we utilize natural beeswax cups (which Mark makes from our pure NM beeswax) and Mel grafts queen larvae into them. These cells are then placed into cell-builders and left alone for 4 days for the nurse bees to fill with royal jelly. Then, queen larvae are removed from them and frozen for sharing with various organizations working on wildlife rehabilitation. The resulting product is a naturally drawn beeswax capsule filled with royal jelly. All capsules are immediately sealed and frozen to retain freshness and potency. Royal jelly capsules available for $3/each. Seasonal subscriptions can be requested by contacting Melanie at 505.901.2102 or by Email: ziaqueenbees@hotmail.com

Beeswax: All of our beeswax comes from fresh honeycomb cappings and is thus- light to golden yellow. Beeswax rendering is a very time consuming effort and is available with advance notice (minimum 1 week).  We offer beeswax for $25/lb. Limited quantity. Also available are hand dipped beeswax candle tapers, mold candles and beeswax arts including mobiles, pendants and jewelry.

Balms & Salves: We also offer wildcrafted pure NM beeswax based lip balms and healing salves. Lip Balms are available in mini tub or recycled plastic tube containers for $5/each. Healing salves come in 3 kinds: Plain/Natural beeswax with organic olive oil; Rejuvenation with essential oils of lemongrass and lavendar and organic olive oil; and Boo Boo or Todo-Tipo with essential oils of eucalyptus, spearmint, lavendar and organic coconut and olive oils. Healing salves are $10/each.

As always, we value all of our clients and wish everyone a healthy and prosperous bee season. We look forward to the coming years of ZQB and our individual and collective endeavors as we continue to share the best of what we have with as many as we can.

Gracias, Thank you, Merci!



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A New Era for Zia Queenbees Farm & Field Institute- 2017 and beyond…

January 3, 2017
by melanie

It’s a New Year! And Changes, BIG CHANGES are in store for ZQB.

The past 12 years have been an exhilarating and thrilling roller coaster ride- with ups and downs, curves and loops and even some whiplash, nausea and euphoria.¬† We have endured the ups and downs of establishing a first generation bee farm in these challenging, exciting and frightening times in the bee and ag industries. And we wouldn’t trade that experience for anything….but now, with our desires to develop more finesse and grace with our apiculture and life efforts, we will be branching into new territory- both as individuals and as a team.

First news is that Zia Queenbees Farm & Field Institute has moved the “office” to Taos, New Mexico. This decision has come at a good time as our children are now attending school in Taos. Mel will be spearheading the ZQB-Taos office which has it’s own mailing address: P.O. Box 522 Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico 87557. Truchas mailing address is still operational as well- P.O. Box 317 Truchas, NM 87578. So, we’ll predominantly be in Taos during the week and in Truchas on the weekends during the school year. Summertime we’ll be splitting time between the two locations and as usual- managing our High Road breeding apiaries and remote location mating zones around northern New Mexico.

No rest for the weary, Melanie already has some Taos area beekeeping projects underway!  Including collaborations with tribal communities, veterans, art and science centers, and schools. Mel placed a couple of mating nuclei last summer at The Red Willow- Taos Pueblo Community Farm.  Both queenies mated out and interestingly, one is blonde and one is brunette. These girls mated with drones at the base of sacred Taos mountain. It will be exciting to see how these high mountain empresses overwinter and develop into the coming seasons. In addition to capturing new high mountain genetics in the southern Rockies, Mel will be working with Addie Lucero- the Executive Director of Red Willow Community Farm to develop curriculum for a beekeeping program for Taos Pueblo tribal youth and members.

Mel is also working with Julie Shedko of LettuceGrowFarm.org- based in El Prado. Apart from running educational programs with her goats, farm produce aggregate and restaurant delivery,¬† and super cool geodesic dome green house (with an indoor pond!), Julie serves as the business manager for The Fechin House- Taos Museum of Art. Mel placed a couple of hives at Lettuce Grow Farm proper and also at the The Fechin House garden grounds- where Julie is working on developing an Edible Forest and Jr. Master Gardener’s program.

Mel has lots of respect for Julie and extends kudos for her efforts to not only share the joys and wonders of working with the land with Taos area residents, but also for her pluck in bringing pesticide issues to the Town of Taos governing council. Through her efforts, the Taos county government will now strive to be a pesticide free county; and will utilize IPM (integrated pest management) strategies before considering using toxic pesticides on public grounds. Way to go Julie! And way to go Taos!!!

The Taos Public Schools, through CJ Grace’s efforts has been awarded a Whole Foods Bee Grant! Mel will be serving as the lead beekeeper for establishing a beehive in the center of town- right across the street from the Town offices and the Taos Public Library.¬† The Taos Youth & Family Center has recently expressed interest in sharing space for pollinators on their beautifully landscaped grounds surrounding the public pool, ice rink and after-school facilities. Taos is on it!

We’ll also be conducting research with NMSU-NMDA on an investigation of Oregano de la Sierra (high mountain native NM bee balm) for pollinator health and value added product potential. The website is up so check out www.herbs4bees.com. We hope that this initial inquiry will lead to more naturally-derived compound research for pollinator health and human wellness as well as for landscape¬† revitalization, ag land reclamation and area land stewardship and planning agencies.

In addition to moving our office- Mark will be spearheading our Truchas farm base. He is eager to get back into baking bread- one of his first passions prior to becoming a beekeeper close to 20 years ago. He has been spending time baking at renowned CloudCliff bakery in Santa Fe on Fridays and even brought his stone mill from Michigan this past summer to share with the bakers. Fresh ground flour grown in the high mountains of northern NM makes REAL BREAD (a name he intends to use for when he decides to open his own bread bakery). Mark also spends the winters grooming snow trails for Sipapu Ski Resort. Which makes a great family outing for us during the cold months!

Also- We are doing more bee consulting work. This is a newer realm for us as individuals and as a team. Last year, Mel got to go to Morocco for the first time. This year, both of us will be heading to Hawaii for the first few months of 2017 to provide bee breeding consultations with a larger operator. This is something we are both excited about as it allows us to experience another region of diversity and also to apply our experience and skills to the next level of queen management, team building and landscape review. We may stop over in northern Cali to work on early season breeding projects with some of breeding peers as well. Mel is also working on developing her writing “career”. She is proud to share that she is going on year 4 serving as the Kelley Beekeeping monthly newsletter editorship. She has also been asked to write for Mother Earth News and is working on several books- one of which is already under consideration for publication by UNM Press on beekeeping in the Land of Enchantment.

And while Mel says there is no rest for the weary, her new advisor- Dr. Steve Sheppard phrases it as, “there is no rest for the wicked!” To top off the list of changes, Mel is going to start grad school- finally! She will be attending Washington State University and learning from Dr. Sheppard’s renowned team of bee researchers and his top notch bee lab. She is so very excited to start this program and looks forward to becoming a more knowledgeable asset and applied research advocate for the beekeeping industry around the globe.

So what do all of these changes mean? Well for one, it means that ZQB will only bee offering starter nuclei and Enchanted Empress Breeder Companions for queen producers, researchers and community oriented projects. For over a decade, ZQB has shared the most of what we have with as many as we could. Each season is different, such is each year and each phase of life. The Zia symbol encompasses all of these changes- each ray signifying a distinct phase of the elements: the four directions (N, E, S, W); the four seasons (Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall); the four times of each day (Dawn, Day, Dusk, Night); and the four periods of life (Infancy, Adolescence, Adulthood, Elder).



As with the changing of the seasons, our aspirations and goals phase from one new chapter to the next. ZQB embraces change- despite its fragility and awkwardness. We look forward to the next phases and extend our heartfelt gratitude for the previous phases. Long live the Bees! And their Stewards!

From the shores of Lake Superior to the Banks of the Rio Grande-

From Farms to Forest Lands- Quality through the Seasons-




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Bee Audacious Dec 11-14, 2016 Marin, CA

October 28, 2016
by melanie



Bee Audacious is a unique collaborative working conference designed to envision bold evidence-based ideas through which honeybees, wild bees, beekeepers and pollination managers can prosper. Bringing experts and thought leaders from around the world, the Invitational first event will be held in Marshall, California, from December 11-13th.

The second event is a Public Panel and is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. All are encouraged to join us at Dominican University in San Rafael, California, on December 14th, 2016 to learn of the conference outcomes and what we can all do to help the planet’s pollinators.

The Public Panel will be recorded and available online. 

We all have a role to play in making the world safe for bees and all pollinators. Join us!

Visit: www.beeadaudacious.com

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