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Bruce Bowen's Bees : Mount Vernon, WA

brucebowenpatrayatbeeyard.jpg
Bowen, in suspenders, & assistant Pat Ray

Bruce Bowen's Wildflower Honey delivers the sweetness and warmth of a Pacific Northwest summer's day with every spoonful. The rich complex flavors blend the myriad of flowers that bloom along the Skagit River in northwest Washignton.

Travelers though the Mt. Vernon area may spot a number of Bowen's bee yards in lowland meadows and on Cascade slopes. He runs 800 hives in the Mt. Vernon area and the surrounding foothills. "The hives I've got in the briar patch are some of my best producers," he explains. "Down at Conway is a good area, but it changes every year."

"You have to work with change in beekeeping," Bowen says. He has seen a lot of changes since be began keeping bees in the 1960's. New pests and diseases began affecting bees all over the nation. Many bees perished. In 1971 he was a full-time beekeeper with 100 hives, but eight years later he decide to stop beekeeping. "I did it off an on after that. But in 1996 my last 2 hives died."

He traveled to Alaska and worked as an engineer on a boat, but the bees called to him again. "I bought five nucs when I got back. I've turned those in to 800 hives, basically with splits," he explains. "Like most beekeepers I don't have deep pockets. I've done this by my boot straps."

Hard work and long hours are part of the demands of beekeeping, Demands that Bowen accepts to peruse his life-long desire to keep bees. "When I was ten years old I wanted to keep bees, but the folks didn't think it was an appropriate thing to do," he says. "I just like working with bees; can't say why."


Some Definitions:

Nuc (a nucleus hive): A small hive of bees which has only 4 frames containing the queen, worker bees, eggs, brood, bee bread and honey

Splits: Creating new hives using eggs, larva, beebread, and honey pulled from another hive. The hive is then given a queen, a queen cells or allowed to raise their own queen from the eggs.

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