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

January 3rd, 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).

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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-

 

M&M- ZQB

 

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