Last updated 15 December, 2015 by Papa Bear.

This page is my opportunity to tell you my story so it is a little lengthy. I hope you enjoy reading about my bee history and my vision of beekeeping. I am Papa Bear aka. Craig Noorlander and it all started in the spring of 2003 in Edgewood New Mexico. There was nothing to help pollinate the fruit trees or the garden. I started with 2 hives and it was so dry that I had to feed the bees all summer long to keep them from starving. As I worked the bees and learned more about them; I completely fell in love with them. Ten years later, in Oct 2013 my wife and I bought 75 acres (now called the property) in McIntosh, New Mexico where I have currently 27 hives along with 6 hives in Edgewood. This is going to be the bee farm or ranch. My vision is to create a sustainable bee population in New Mexico. A solar well was put in and a pond dug for the bees. I plan on planting bee friendly plants including trees with blossoms as a wind break so that I do not have to chase the nectar flow. I envision having 25 to 30 hives on each corner and in the center of the north and south boundaries. In time, I will have trees bordering all of the property with a large variety flowers and bushes growing. Check out these sites for New Mexico planting: Pollinator Plants Recommended for New Mexico and Cover Crops in a Whole Farm System provided to me by Kate Whelen. I also have found this site selecting trees useful. I believe this will be a great location to breed queens. This plan will produce around 150 to 200 hives in the next 5 years. I will also set it up so that people interested in beekeeping can come and be mentored or taught at the property as well as going around the state to teach. This has become my passion along with continually learning about bees. After 13 years, I am starting to think that I might know a little bit about them. I want to share that knowledge and hopefully together we become better stewards. The land is filling a purpose and there is a partnership between the land and the bees. The land and bees can do without us and this land has done fine without anyone on it for years. But, I was told by the land that it and the bees (I have learned by experience) do better with our help and partnership. I also know that whatever I do that benefits the bees will benefit native pollinators and wildlife. I look forward to seeing how things will change on this property as time rolls along. I know it will not be easy and that I will have set backs and challenges but I do not know anything worth while that doesn't have these. I will have both Top Bar and Langstroth nucs and hives on the property.

My bee keeping time line:

I started keeping bees in the spring of 2003 with 2 hives

In 2004, I expanded to 10 hives and had them on a raspberry farm for pollination.

In 2005, I started moving them around New Mexico to follow the honey flow. I actually was able to extract some honey. In fact, I got enough honey that I joined the Edgewood Farmer's Market. I quickly sold out and had to buy from a commercial beekeeper in Las Cruces, New Mexico to keep up with the demand.

In 2006, I lost about half of my hives with winter kill and in the spring bought another 5 nucs.

In 2007, I bought another 9 full hives from someone that wanted to reduce their apiary. I had a banner year that year and had 25 strong hives going into the spring of 2008.

In 2008, around March someone came into my yard and dumped pesticide into one of my boxes. This set me back tremendously since I lost all of my bees. I did not dare use my boxes for fear of contaminating any new bees.

In 2009, I bought all new equipment. I also bought 20 - 4 pound packages and brought them down to New Mexico. These bees were very gently, mite resistant, and good honey producers.

In 2010, I became a distributor and bought 75 - 4 pound packages keeping some for myself and sold the rest before I went up to get them. I got back up to about 25 hives at this point.

In 2011, I expanded by buying 275 packages and still sold out before I picked them up. I started to become know in the state and became part of the New Mexico Bee Keepers Association (NMBKA) as a Board Member .

In 2012, I got 400 packages and again sold out before I picked them up at the end of March. I served on the Board for the second year.

In 2013, I bought another 400 packages and sold out before I picked them up. I became vice president of the New Mexico Bee Keepers Association.

In 2014, I ordered 624 packages and still sold out. I actually got up to about 45 hives but sold queens and did some combining, as well as, had a few losses because of lack of honey and no time to feed them. I remained vice president. I also was one of the instructors for the Certified Bee Keepers program that the NMBKA started this year.

In 2015, I brought around 600 packages and sold out. I asked to be released as the vice president of the NMBKA because of my goals for the property and mentoring people. I didn't believe that I can give it the time needed. It was a privilege serving and I look forward to serving again sometime in the future. I will continue to be a teacher for the Certified Bee Keepers program for the first and second year students.

One of the main things that I enjoy doing is teaching about bees and have taught seminars since 2010. I will do another seminar in March. I also mentor anyone that is willing to work with my schedule. Besides beekeeping and mentoring new beekeepers, I managed the Edgewood Farmers' Market from 2006 to 2012. I also am heavily involved with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts as well as working full time with the New Mexico Air National Guard.

Please check out my Bee Page for more details about the bees that I sell.

queen on frameeggs on frame4 pound packageswarm boxedframe of bees

Pictures from left to right:

1. Frame of bees with some honey, pollen, and various stages of brood (from egg to sealed brood). Can you spot the queen?

2. Frame of bees building comb on the foundation and full of eggs where the comb is built up enough to be lain.

3. Close up of package of bees.

4. Boxing of a swarm.

5. Frame from a bee box.

olive grovecatching queenpackage bee yard adding queens

Pictures from left to right:

6. Olive grove where the mating nucs are in California.

7. Catching a queen from a mating nuc.

8. The bee packaging yard. (that's me with all the bees on me) Notice the gentleman grabbing the green box of bees to put into the container in the background.

9. That's me adding queens to the packages before we add the bees.

putting bee in funnelfunneling in packagepropertyhives on property

Pictures from left to right:

10. Putting the bees into the funnel and weighing them.

11. Funneling the bees into the package.

12. The property out in McIntosh.

13. Close up shot of some of the hives on the property.