Colorado has a rich beekeeping heritage that goes back over 135 years. Prior to its admission as a the 38th State in 1876, sustainable beekeeping was not successful here. With the arrival of settlers and farmers in Colorado, and with their planting and cultivation of sweet clover (Melilotus spp.) and Lucerne (alfalfa) there became enough flowering plants available for honey bees to subsist in Colorado (the natural habitat of Colorado is highland desert). The development by Reverend Lorenzo Langstroth of the removable and interchangeable frame hive in 1855 also facilitated the development of standardized and successful beekeeping practices in Colorado – and in the U.S. Around the early 1920’s agriculture and fruit production also provided valuable sources of forage (as well as pollination for farmers) that have helped to sustain a viable beekeeping industry in Colorado.
There have been a number of successful and profitable beekeeping operations and families in Colorado – some now in their 4th and 5th generations of beekeeping. As with any segment of agriculture, beekeepers and beekeeping have had to adapt and evolve with the changing conditions and demands. What many of the newer beekeepers in Colorado may not appreciate is that beekeepers have always had to deal with problems and find ways to deal with them successfully. Current situations and problems for honey bees and beekeepers are perhaps more complex than in the past – but not insurmountable. The success of many of the experienced and livelihood-dependent beekeeping operations here prove that.
A primary function of the CPBA is to promote the sense of confidence and beekeeping success that the historical and heritage beekeepers in Colorado have contributed and will continue to contribute to Colorado beekeepers and beekeeping.
The Johnston Family
The Johnston family has been keeping honey bees in Colorado since 1908. Third generation beekeeper, Lyle Johnston, is one of the larger beekeepers in Colorado. In the past he has run hives in 10 different states, but Colorado is still his home state. Lyle’s two daughters, Jamie and Jacy, are fourth generation Colorado beekeepers and are very active in the Colorado beekeeping community. They also each have their own beekeeping and honey businesses… Beeyond The Hive and Beekeepers Honey Boutique.
Check out the video by the National Honey Board featuring the Johnston family.