Who We Are

Zia Queenbee Company of New Mexico was established in 2005 by Native New Mexican, Melanie M. Kirby  as the sister company to  Superior Honey Farms established in 2000 by Mark Spitzig of Michigan. Originally, both Melanie and Mark would migrate with their bees from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to the southern Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico as  collaborative companies dedicated to producing the highest quality beekeeping products and services through sustainable and conscientious care of their hives and the surrounding landscape. Over the years, and two children later, it became more challenging to migrate with the bees such a distance and so efforts became focused on their New Mexico base- located on The High Road to Taos. Zia Queenbees now migrates some breeder hives to the Bay Peninsula Preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains of northern California (near San Francisco). Through collaborative efforts with additional queen breeders in northern California- ZQB is able to offer early season bees and queens, and also their Rocky Mountain mated queens during the summer months. ZQB offeres exceptional, regionally-adapted queen bees, package bees, starter nuclei, varietal honeys, pollination services, consilience research, and community education outreach about the wonders of beekeeping.

Zia Queenbee Company

Melanie Kirby established Zia Queenbee Company to provide quality queen bees and natural honeybee products in 2005. A member of Tortugas Pueblo, and born and raised in New Mexico, Melanie pursued a varied educational path before the bees found her. She studied marine biology and fisheries for a couple of years at the University of Miami in Florida before switching gears and graduating from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico with an Advanced Liberal Arts degree (based on the Great Books with an emphasis on Philosophy). Melanie began her beekeeping career in 1997 in Paraguay, South America where she was stationed as  a Beekeeping Extension Volunteer with the United States Peace Corps. After serving her country abroad as a technical and cultural ambassador, she continued to learn and grow as a beekeeper while working for two companies on the Big Island of Hawaii for the next 5 years. There she learned skills in commercial beekeeping and queen rearing. After Hawaii, she went to work in Florida for a migratory beekeeper who traveled with his bees between Wisconsin and Florida. There she learned about nucleus and package bee production and met her farm partner- Mark Spitzig, who was working at the same Florida bee farm. Following these experiences, she committed her energies and skills towards beginning Zia Queenbees Farm & Field Institute, a beekeeping enterprise that is progressive, innovative, and ethical. In a farm partnership with Mark Spitzig, Zia Queenbees and collaborators span from border-to-border. Melanie is currently finishing her MSc. in Entomology from Washington State University. She participates with SlowBees-SlowFood International, AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society), Western Apicultural Society of North America, The American Beekeeping Federation, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, and various other local to international beekeeping and sustainable farming organizations. She was a 2019-2020 Fulbright-National Geographic Fellow and was conducting research in Spain on their native honey bees when the COVID19 pandemic altered her field research. She also works as the Extension Educator for the Land-Grant Program at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Zia Queenbees has apiaries established  throughout the northern region of New Mexico’s Land of Enchantment. Home base is nestled at the kiss of the forests- where the Pecos, Santa Fe, and Carson National Forests meet in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range of the southern Rockies. The home farm is located on The High Road to Taos at 8000′ elevation in the heart of Pueblo Indian country.

Reverence for our location and nature’s gifts is prominent here. Zia Queenbees is dedicated to conscientious and practical queen breeding, collaborative rearing projects, and to maintaining local, regional and national sustainability.


LongeviBees & Superior Honey Farms

Mark Spitzig first established Superior Honey Farms in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 2002. Mark has been beekeeping for over 20 years. Located on the shores of Lake Superior, Superior Honey Farms supplied pure local, raw, unblended, and unfiltered honey to the Marquette Food Cooperative for 10 years. In his search for reliable, productive and hearty queens, Mark decided to take his skills to the next level and rear his own. Through a partnership with Melanie Kirby, Superior Honey Farms shared their root stock with ZQB. This means that selection has been taking place for over 20 years.

Mark has had many professional lives. He was a baker, a boat-maker (kayaks), an amateur chocolatier, and a professional snow groomer (where he still spends the winter months making snow at a nearby ski hill).  Mark also has a hemp project with community  members and is venturing in to the world of beekeeping tech, through a collaboration with www.osbeehives.org.

Over the past few years, he has been developing an early spring bee breeding exchange and program with collaborators in Northern California. He has branched a new arm of the farm called, LongeviBees by Zia Queenbees which is focused on rearing and sharing bee packages and starter nuclei.

In Collaboration

“From the shores of Lake Superior
to the banks of the Rio Grande,
Quality through the Seasons.”

Beekeeping is a humbling profession, and we continue to learn and share “the best of what we have with the best of what we know.” We have combined our diverse skills, specialties, as well as personal and professional experiences to develop progressive and innovative queen rearing practices, exquisite honeybee products and community services.

By breeding regional Queens and bees,  Zia Queenbees Farm & Field Institute is  dedicated to promoting local agriculture and markets. We are a reliable resource that supplies hearty bees, exquisite honeys, and hive products in the Four Directions.

Through selective breeding, our Queen bees are productive, gentle, hardy, and pest/disease resistant. They are suitable for over-wintering in either the northern climates of the Great Lakes or the high-altitude Southwest. We are part of a growing trend dedicated to revitalizing our industry and to returning to natural beekeeping practices that are healthy, holistic and sustainable. We look forward to serving all experience and skill levels of beekeepers, from backyard to professional/commercial beekeepers and researchers.

Paz y Alma | Peace and Soul,

M and M and Buzz & Blossom & the Honeybees