Joe Komperda fell into beekeeping because of his wife Debbie. She had been fascinated by bees for quite some time. It’s more than eight years since Joe saw an ad in his Parker, Colorado newspaper for a bee club meeting, taking place in his neighborhood that night. He and Debbie decided to join. “One of the first things you learn about beekeeping is swarms,” Joe explains. “Bee’s naturally swarm to split the hive to create a new colony.” A swarm of bees, often clinging to tree branches or huddled underneath eaves, are looking for a new home. While a swarm is generally a scary sight for the average non-beekeeper and the first thought is to have it removed, these bees are what Joe and the beekeeping community call ‘freebees.’ Another beehive awaits.
A swarm is exactly how Joe broke into beekeeping. The Bee Club put out the call, needing a swarm removed. No one was available, and the low country was expecting the year’s first snowfall, something an exposed swarm can’t survive. Debbie couldn’t bear the thought of an entire bee colony dying in the cold. Having no gear of their own, Joe and Debbie set out to borrow suits, a ladder, hoses, and a bee vacuum. Yes, there are bee vacuums for such an event. It was an adventure like nothing they’d experienced before, and Joe and Debbie were hooked. “Then people start calling us to pick up swarms,” Joe says like he’s winning the lottery.
Shortly after he started beekeeping, Joe enrolled in a Master Beekeeping course. Meeting new people is a perk for Joe, as he inevitably finds new properties to place new hives. Just like we learn about wildlife needing a certain amount of space to roam, forage and find water, bees are the same way. One day as he’s working a couple of hives in a maintenance yard in Parker, and a friend of the property manager drives up, curious about the hives. He happens to also be a director of grounds and maintenance at a nearby property. The beekeeper and the wanna-bees talk bees for a bit, and the new guy asks if Joe can bring and manage a couple of hives on his property. “I’m over at Dove Valley, and the chef uses honey all the time in energy recovery drinks on the training table.” It’s at this point that Joe notices the orange piping on this man’s blue tracksuit, at the same moment Joe became Master Beekeeper to the Broncos.
We are thrilled to have Joe teaching Cherry Hills Village residents beekeeping as part of our 2021 Bee Project. Joe will be installing an apiary at Quincy Farm in May. Check out more information about our 2021 Bee Project here.